Early in the conference season the No. 13 ranked Barton Community College baseball team appears to have a knack for rallying as the Cougars bounced back a 4-3 loss to split Saturday's doubleheader at Hutchinson Community College with a 10-3 series finale victory.
The Cougars dropped the opener after stranding ten runners on the base paths and were getting handcuffed through six of the finale's nine innings. Rallying for a walk-off win in Thursday's sweep on the home turf, Barton stayed the course at Hobart-Detter Field behind strong pitching before erupting for six runs in the seventh in plating nine Cougars in the final three innings to seize the win. The split ensured Barton's third straight 3-1 series victory to open up the early portion of the conference schedule, improving to 9-3 in Jayhawk play and 23-6 on the season while Hutchinson ends the series with an 8-8 conference mark and 15-13 overall.
Barton will take a break from the Jayhawk grind with a non-conference nine inning game Monday at 4:00 p.m. versus the junior varsity of McPherson College before beginning a four-game set with Pratt Community College on Thursday.
Just like the Blue Dragons did in Thursday's doubleheader, Barton put on a run up to make it three straight games in the series the visitor broke through on the scoreboard in their first at-bat.
Dawson Pomeroy got his lone hit of the opener with a leadoff single, scoring Kaden Fowler's lone hit coming with his team leading 15th double of the year sending a deep shot to right center. A theme of lost opportunities would ensue as an out later, Brett Bonar drew the first of his three walks in the game but the two-on threat was erased on a double play ball.
Barton again stranded runners in the second as Zach Curry sent the Dragons down in order in the home half. Again the Cougars couldn't capitalize in leaving two more on the paths leaving the door open for the Hutchinson equalizer in the bottom half of the frame as a leadoff double would eventually score on a ground out.
Jared Maneth's reach on error leading off the fourth set up Barton's answer as the teams would go back and forth for the next two innings. Maneth moved over to second on a wild pitch and to third Paul Claassen's sac bunt. Denk then lined a 0-2 pitch to center putting Barton ahead for the time being.
Hutchinson also got the lead off aboard, as a single and infield error followed by a sac bunt would set up the tying run coming across on its second ground out RBI.
Carson Engroff's sixth double of the year opened the fifth with Bonar's groundout moving him a base closer for Michel's groundout to be good enough for the RBI and a 3-2 Barton lead.
The advantage would last just two batters into the home half as Dylan Nedved sent a 2-0 pitch over the center field wall for his first collegiate home run.
Barton stranded two more runners in the sixth and seventh, bringing their total to ten in the seven innings and one too many times left the door open for the Blue Dragons.
Following consecutive one-out singles to chase Curry, Tanner Howe took the mound to close the door on the eight with a fly ball and ground out. Howe looked to be getting out of one-out hit-by-pitch in the seventh, but a two-out single was followed by a another single up the middle as the play at the plate was too late handing the Overland Park freshman his first loss against two victories on the season.
Consecutive down in order began the series finale to break the normal three-game ritual of scoring a run for the teams, but both crack the goose egg in the second with a single run.
Brady Michel got the Cougars going drawing a one out walk and following Ferguson getting plunked on 2-2 two-out pitch, Claassen came through with an RBI single to left.
Committing two errors in game one, the lone Barton error in the finale led to Hutchinson's first run as Garrett Stephens reached safely to begin the home half. Ryan Moritz' sac bunt found the hole for an infield single and following a bang-bang play at first base for an out, Julian Rip's fly to left field was deep enough to plate the tying run.
Barton had an opportunity to put a run on the board in the top of the third as Pomeroy's leadoff walk, erased on Fowler's fielder's choice, would go for naught as Fowler would later get called out for leaving the third base bag early on Bonar's centerfield fly ball.
From there the starting hurlers of Nolan Riley for the Cougars and Mike Brown for Hutchinson would keep both offenses tied up for the first three innings.
Making his first collegiate start, Riley threw just four pitches to send the Dragons down in order with Brown striking out two to send the Barton bats down in order.
Riley sent Hutchinson down quietly in the fourth but a leadoff single in the home half of the fifth broke up the eight straight streak of retiring consecutive batters. Two outs later Brock Schaffer delivered the go ahead run with a single to right giving Hutch a 2-1 lead.
Brown was equally, if not more impressive, in sending Barton back to the dugout in ten straight plate appearances until Brady Michel wore a 2-0 pitch to lead off the seventh. The hit by pitch would signal demise for Brown and the Blue Dragons as Erickson's sac bunt was thrown into right field to plate Michel for the tying run. Trenton Ferguson then wore the badge of honor three pitches later with Claassen lifting a centerfield sac fly putting Barton ahead 3-2.
Andale freshman Harrison Denk then chased Brown from the game lacing a 1-0 pitch for a right field RBI triple for his first collegiate three-bagger. Pomeroy then greeted new Blue Dragon pitcher greets new pitcher Matt Hopkins' first pitch with an RBI single and following Fowler and Bonar consecutive walks, Michel capped the six run inning with a two-out 2-RBI single for a 7-2 lead.
Riley gave way to Easton Smith back in the sixth in completing his first collegiate start with five innings pitched in scattering three hits with one strikeout and one earned run.
Working past a two-out single in the sixth, Smith sent the Blue Dragons down in order after the six-run seventh in quickly turning the frame back to the Cougar offense.
Brett Erickson began the eighth with a single through the six-hole and as had happened in the seventh, Barton's sacrifice bunt was misplayed allowing Ferguson to give the Cougars their first two batters aboard. Already chalking up three sacrifices in the doubleheader, Claassen again executed when the Cougars needed it as the "Sac Man" put down a bunt to advance the runners. Six pitchers later Erickson crossed the plate on a wild pitch with the next delivery to the plate out of the zone putting Denk on base with the full-count walk. Denk would then get caught in a rundown attempting to steal second but stayed alive long enough for Ferguson to increase the lead to 9-2.
Hutchinson would attempt a rally in the home half of the eighth as a one-out single followed by a hit by pitch would set up Bobby Morgensen's RBI single. A walk later Smith would hand the ball over to Casey Wulfkuhle with the Shawnee Heights product striking out the next two batters to strand the bags full of Blue Dragons.
Erickson gave Barton an insurance run with two outs in the ninth driving home Engroff's one-out single as the duo both led the Cougars eight hits with two apiece.
The Blue Dragons' knocked consecutive singles to begin the final frame but Wulfkuhle struck out the next two before getting a ground out to Erickson to salvage the split and improve to 2-0 on the year.