The Barton Community College baseball team split its pair of conference games Friday in Concordia as the Cougars took the opener 8-2 before a three-run eighth inning snatched the sweep at Cloud County Community College with the T-birds coming out on top 4-3.
The split moves Barton to 13-9 in West play and 26-13 overall with Cloud County at 10-8 and 22-14 as the four-game series shifts locations and resumes at 1:00 p.m. Sunday at Lawson-Biggs Field.
Game One Recap
Aesthetically, game one wasn't the most aesthetically victory of the Cougars season but the grinded out win put Barton back in the win column to snap a three-game slide.
The pitching staff of Zach Curry and Joe Richter was a big reason the Cougars prevailed in limiting the T-birds to just three hits while striking out thirteen combined. Curry improved to 4-2 on the year behind ten punch-outs in five innings on the hill with Richter throwing a perfect two innings to close it out including striking out half of the batters faced.
Offensively the Cougars remained in a hitting slump with just four total hits, two coming from Brett Erickson.
Erickson helped load the bases in the second inning, following Nolan Riley's lead off plunked by a pitch with a one-out single. Chandler Bloomer took the last available bag in drawing a four pitch walk with the Cougars getting two across the dish on a T-bird error followed by Chandler Kelley drawing a full-count RBI walk giving Barton a 2-0 lead.
Cloud County cut the deficit in half in the home portion of the frame as leadoff hit by pitch would score after a single and RBI double.
The second of Cloud County's three errors in the game put Noah Geekie aboard to begin the ensuing third with Harrison Denk joining the party earning a full-count walk. The T-birds' Tylor Jans (1-3) looked to be getting out of the inning unscathed by inducing a pair of fly outs and getting ahead 0-2 on Erickson but the Cougar sophomore laid off a pair of pitches out of the zone before lacing a single pushing Barton's lead to 4-1.
A leadoff walk in the fifth would eventually plate Cloud County's other run in the game, coming on a wild pitch following a one-out double but Curry struck out two of the three outs in the frame to close out his five innings on the hill.
Barton added a pair of runs in each of the sixth and final seventh innings to put the final touches on the victory. Following up a wild pitch allowing the sixth's first run to cross, Kelley plated the next on a sac fly with a similar scenario occurring in the seventh with the Cougars' first run cross on the T-birds' third error of the game with Erickson closing out his three RBI game with a deep sac fly to center.
Game Two Recap
Solo hits in each of the first two frames were all Barton could muster in the first five innings but trailed just 1-0 as Cloud County's second inning two-out single provided the difference maker.
Following two quick outs to begin the sixth, the Cougars got some help from T-birds as Denk's walk, an infield error, and a hit by pitch loaded the bases setting up Erickson delivering his fourth RBI of the day in fighting off a pair of 1-2 pitches with a single to left. Barton tried to score Riley on the play but an executed relay throw cut down Riley at the plate.
The T-birds threatened to regain the lead in the home half with a hit batsman, single, and walk loaded the bases with one out on starter Easton Smith forcing a call to the bullpen. Coleton Crisp took over on the mound inducing a pair of infield fly outs to escape the threat.
Bloomer's leadoff single and Noah Rheinheimer reaching on an error began the ensuing seventh with Andrew Stewart's executed sac bunt plating the first run and Geekie's triple to deep center field tacking on another pushing the lead out to 3-1.
Normally a solid fielding club, the T-birds gifted Barton a pair of runners to begin the eighth but it would be "a sign of the times" as the Cougars couldn't take advantage and left the pair stranded.
In the home half of the frame with the Cougars leading by two, a single and a walk appeared to be joined in a bases loaded situation following a single to the outfield. However, the Cougars' lone error of the game of a misplayed fielding attempt started a merry-go-round effect resulting in the tying runs crossing the plate. Brining in Tanner Howe to relieve Crisp, the sophomore got the first of two remaining outs on a groundout but a two-out single pushed in the go-ahead run.
The Cougars battled in the final frame with Stewart setting the tone in fighting off a 1-2 count to draw an eight pitch one-out walk. Geekie followed with his third hit of game two with Denk following in also battling back from a 1-2 count in drawing a walk to load the bases. Opportunity would escape the Cougars just like it did in the inning previous as a strikeout and ground out back to the mound closed out the afternoon in disappointing fashion.
Crisp took the hard luck loss in dropping to 0-3 on the season.
Geekie's three hits led the Cougars with Bloomer accounting for two of the team's seven total hits.