Cougars fend off Beavers to take series opener #GoBarton #RoarCougs

Barton baseball's Harrison Denk lays down a key game one sixth inning sac bunt vs Pratt
Barton baseball's Harrison Denk lays down a key game one sixth inning sac bunt vs Pratt

The Barton Community College baseball team fended off the upset minded Beavers of Pratt Community College as the Cougars scored late to secure a 5-4 opening win at Lawson-Biggs Field before exploding for eight runs in the nightcap's fifth frame enroute to a 12-2 eighth inning run-rule shortened victory.

The victories, along with other action around the conference, moves the Cougars back into a tie for first place of the early conference season at 7-3 and 17-6 overall while Pratt slides to 1-9 and 13-12 on the season.

The series shifts to Pratt's Stanion Field on Friday for a 1:00 p.m. doubleheader to conclude the four-game block.

The Cougars appeared ready to blow the Beavers away in the opener with Zach Curry mowing down two of the first three batters while his teammates plated four runs in the home half.

Andrew Stewart drove in the first run on a single to left scoring Noah Geekie's hit by pitch. Fighting off an 0-2 pitch, designated hitter Charlie Peyla drove the fourth pitch of the at-bat high into the left field sky landing just over the leaping mitt of Sean Johnson for a three-run score changer for the freshman's first collegiate home run.

Curry struck out the third of his five strikeouts to begin the third frame but the Beavers strung consecutive singles before a trio of hits extended the inning with two outs in plating three runs drawing to within 4-3.

The teams combined for just three hits through the next 3.5 innings until Pratt got a one-out double to set up an ensuing RBI single to tie the game up.

Peyla reached on an error in the home half, getting into scoring position as Harrison Denk laid down the perfect sac bunt. Two pitches later Tyler Bandiera laced the go-ahead RBI with a single to left with Trenton Ferguson fighting off an 0-2 to send a liner to center in plating Bandiera for a key insurance run.

Turning the ball over to closer Tanner Howe for the seventh, the Beavers wouldn't go down quietly in stringing a one-out double and single to draw within one. Second baseman Brett Erickson made a nice play to get the lead runner out at second with Howe earning his sixth save of the season inducing a game ending fly out to left.

Curry's six innings wasn't his best outing of the year but still effective in striking out five while walking none in improving to 3-1 on the sophomore's season.

Pratt struck first in game two, using a one-out walk followed by a two-out single to take the early lead.

Sent down in order in the first frame, Ferguson provided the equalizer in the Cougars' second at-bat with a liner to right in driving home Stewart's leadoff hit.

The Beavers retook the lead in the top of the fourth as a hit batsman and walk extended the inning for a two-out single.

Things fell apart for the Pratt pitching staff in Barton's fifth inning at-bat resulting in eight runs on the home's slot of the scoreboard.

After getting the first out of the inning, Geekie produced the first of six Cougar hits in the frame while three Pratt pitchers combined in aiding the scoring output with two walks and two hit batsman.

Peyla's single drove in the eventual game winner with RBIs coming on bases loaded hit-by-pitch on Ferguson followed by Erickson and Noah Rheinheimer walks. Denk followed with driving in two of his team leading three RBIs on a single to right with Geekie greeting a new pitcher with another run producer on a liner up the middle. The Cougars reloaded the bases on Nolan Riley's hit but a pair of fly outs prevented the damage from growing worse.

Three additional hit batsman began the home half of the next inning but the Beavers rolled up a double play to appear getting out of the inning with just one run added to their deficit. Denk had other plans in finishing off his three RBI performance out of the leadoff position in driving a 3-1 pitch into right.

Easton Smith closed out his six innings on the hill with a 1-2-3 inning including his fifth strikeout of the game improving to 4-0 on the year. Coleton Crisp took over for a three-up three-down seventh including two strikeouts with Casey Wulfkuhle working around a double and single to open up the eighth before inducing a fly out to follow a walk with two strikeout swinging outs.

Returning to the plate, the Cougars put the game on ice as Erickson drew a walk to begin the inning with a Denk single moving him into scoring position. Combining with Denk for six hits out of the top two lineup slots, Geekie delivered the game clinching RBI driving Erickson home just in front of a tag at the plate for the run rule victory.