The 18th ranked Barton Community College baseball team finished off Thursday's action at Lawson-Biggs Field in dramatic fashion to sweep a pair of conference games over Colby Community College. Scoring five runs in the opener's fourth inning to run away with an 11-3 win, the Cougars needed a rally in the nightcap scoring a pair in runs in each of the final three innings, the final two coming on a two-out walk off home run for the sweep. Barton's fifth straight victory improves the first place Cougars to 17-5 and 33-8 on the season with Colby slipping to fourth at 12-10 and 22-19 overall. As Mother Nature plays havoc with the schedule, the teams resume the back-end of the four-game series a day later than pre-planned in shifting to Sunday with a 1:00 p.m. first pitch in Colby.
The clutch hits were numerous on the day with emphasis on game two as both teams provided fans with action to the wire. For the Cougars it began with a Kaden Fowler home run with two-outs in the third. With the Cougars trailing 4-0 and still in their lull following the game one victory, Fowler launched his third big fly of the day and his team leading 10th of the season to pump life into the Cougars with two outs in the inning. The energizing solo shot followed a 3-for-3 game one performance which included two solo dingers in driving home three runs.
Consecutive singles by Carson Engroff and Brett Bonar would extend the inning even further with Brady Michel coming through on his first of two clutch hits in the contest in fighting off a 1-2 pitch for a left field RBI single to cut the Barton deficit in half.
Fast forward through 3.5 innings of scoreless play into the bottom of the seventh with Brett Huelsmann down in the count 1-2 but drawing a leadoff walk. A passed ball later and Harrison Denk provided his lone hit of the nightcap with an RBI line drive single to left hustling into second base on a fielding error on the play. Fowler then pushed Denk to third base on a groundout to the right side leading to the tying run coming an out later on a wild pitch.
The top of the eighth was Colby's turn to come through in the clutch with a one-out double, passed ball, and walk would chase reliever Easton Smith from the game. The Trojans then perfectly executed a safety squeeze on reliever Tanner Howe for the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly pushing the Colby lead to 6-4.
The Cougars were down to their final out in the home half as CJ Bertram relieved starting hurler Logan Hoffman, with Dawson Pomeroy's single sandwiched in between the two outs. Jumping on the first pitch, Huelsmann came through in the clutch launching a game tying hammered shot to left for the Eisenhower High School product's first home run of the season and second collegiate wall clearer.
Pomeroy took over on the mound for the ninth, putting the first man aboard as a curve ball didn't curve. A fielder's choice getting the lead run and a strikeout left the Trojans to their final out and then to their final strike but Matt Coutney played his clutch hand in fouling off the first 2-2 pitch before lacing a single to right. Pinch hitter Nick Perez wasted no time before scorching a hot shot on his first pitch down the third base line for a double in driving what stood as the game winning RBI.
Bertram took care of Fowler to begin the Barton ninth on a called full-count strikeout and had Engroff down 0-2 before the Topeka sophomore drove the third pitch through the hole to right field. Pinch runner Billy Coleman took over the bag for Engroff as the tying run and in an effort to hold the speedster close, Bertram's pick-off throw resulted with Coleman ninety feet from the dish on the two base wild throw. Bertram regrouped to strikeout Tim Bell but couldn't fool Michel as the Great Bend native blasted a 2-1 pitch deep to center field for his sixth of the season to kick start a home plate Cougar party in the walk-off victory.
In addition to Fowler's pair of solo home runs in the opener, the Cougars also received another quality start by Josh Hendrickson improving to 8-1 on the season. Surrendering a pair of runs on a second inning home run, Hendrickson limited the Trojan bats to just three more hits in the next five innings. Defensively Erickson was also solid, beginning a 1-4-3 double play to end the fourth before following Brett Erickson's unassisted double play with a pick-off at first to end the Colby sixth.
The Cougars broke open the tied ball game in the fourth with Erickson and Pomeroy one-out singles followed by a Claassen walk to load the bases beginning the big inning. Huelsmann's RBI single plated one but the big blow came from Denk's third triple of year lining down the right field line to clear the bases. Fowler then followed with his second of three RBIs in the game to cap the five run inning for a 7-3 lead.
Erickson's leadoff fifth inning walk and team leading 11th stolen base of the year set up another Barton run with Claassen sending an 0-2 pitch to left field growing the lead to five.
Barton put the game away in the home half of the sixth as Fowler led off with his second home run of the game with an Engroff single and Bonar walk following resetting the bases. Michel then drove a double to the wall for an RBI with Pomeroy settling for a warning track sac fly in just missing a three run Pom Bomb.
Bonar, Engroff, and Fowler racked up four hits each in the twin bill as Fowler was joined by Michel and Denk with the four RBI day.
Smith gave the Cougars four innings of solid early relief in the nightcap, taking over for Andrew Repp in the fourth inning until giving way to Howe in the eighth. The trio along with Pomeroy combined for ten strikeouts in joining Hendrickson's five in the opener.