The No. 18 ranked Barton Community College baseball team earned its fifth straight conference 3-1 series victory as the Cougars swept Seward County Community College in Liberal on Sunday 3-1 and 8-4. The victories improve Barton's first place standing in the Jayhawk to 15-5 and 30-8 overall while Seward County slides to 6-14 in conference play and 18-22 on the year. The Cougars' next game is 5:00 p.m. Tuesday in a nine inning non-conference game hosting Hutchinson Community College before beginning a pivotal conference series on Thursday as Colby Community College comes to Lawson-Biggs Field.
Ottawa freshman Zach Curry improved to 3-0 on the season in matching a career high six strikeouts in going the seven inning distance for the 3-1 opening victory.
Brett Huelsmann also made his full-time return to the field, back on the diamond for the first time since getting injured on a catch March 15 in Garden City, only to make another big time catch in robbing a single in the fifth on a spectacular diving catch in short right center.
Brett Erickson and Carson Engroff led the Cougars with a pair of hits each as Barton outhit the Saints 9-7. Kaden Fowler's fifth inning leadoff double set the stage for a two-run difference as Engroff followed with a single leading to Fowler's go-ahead run on a Saint error and Erickson putting the cap on the inning with a sacrifice fly.
Harrison Denk led off the nightcap with the first of his three singles, coming home on the first of two Brett Bonar doubles in the game as a Seward County error would tack on another for an early 2-0 Cougar lead.
Following a Saint solo run in the second, Barton put up a four spot in the ensuing third with two outs in the inning. Denk reached on an error to begin the frame with two-out singles by Bonar and Brady Michel hit by pitch loading the bases. Erickson drove in one with a single but the big blow came from Tim Bell as the Junction City freshman cleared the bases with his second double of the year increasing the lead to 6-1.
Behind the pitching staff of Nolan Riley, Tanner Howe, and Easton Smith, the Cougars held Seward County from putting together any big inning as the Saints could only muster additional single runs in the fourth, fifth, and seventh innings. Riley would pick up the win in his 4.1 innings of work for the Augusta freshman's first collegiate win in part to a getting help from the defensive end as the Cougar infield rolled up a 6-4-3 (Paul Claassen-Erickson-Engroff) double play in the third inning.
Denk helped give the Cougars some cushion in the seventh, leading off with his third hit as Fowler's leadoff single, Fowler's team leading 21st double was followed by Engroff's sixth hit by pitch to load the bases for the second time in the game. Bonar lost the battle of a 10-pitch at-bat but Michel provided a sacrifice fly before Erickson's second single of the contest drove in the final run.
Denk and Bonar led the ten-hit attack with three hits each as Bonar batted .533 in the series going 8-of-15 with two doubles and a pair of runs batted in.