by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
Kansas City Kansas Community College knocked one team out of first place last weekend. Now they have a chance to do it again.
A 12-4 winner at Rockhurst University junior varsity Monday night, the Blue Devils (33-10) play host to Jayhawk Conference leader Cowley College Thursday at 1 p.m.
The defending conference champions and No. 16 ranked nationally, Cowley (13-3) leads No. 8 Johnson County (16-4) and KCKCC (19-5) in what has boiled down to a three-team race.
Kevin Santiago hammered two home runs and Eduardo Acosta, Jose Sosa and Joshua Salazar lashed out three hits each in a 15-hit attack at Rockhurst.
Seven Blue Devil pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts but had to leave 13 runners stranded on base as a result of giving up eight hits and walking eight. It wasn’t until the final two innings that the Blue Devils pulled away.
Tied 4-4 entering the eighth inning, the Blue Devils scored three unearned runs on just one hit, a run-scoring single by Salazar, and then blew the game open with five runs on six hits in the ninth including five in a row.
Singles by Michael Edgar and Acosta ignited the uprising and Santiago drove in both with his second homer, a blast to straightaway center. Sosa singled and Trey Hoover doubled to extend the rally and both scored on a double by Max Schrick.
The two teams locked up in a pitcher’s battle the first six innings. KCKCC took a 1-0 lead in the first, scoring on a single by Acosta and a double by Sosa.
Rockhurst tied it on a wild pitch in the bottom of the first before Santiago’s first home run and his fourth of the season made it 2-1 in the third and it stayed that way until the sixth inning. Acosta made it 4-1 with a two-out two-run single after a leadoff single by Schrick, a bunt single by Salazar and Edgar’s sacrifice bunt that put the two runners in scoring position.
Rockhurst tied it with three runs in the bottom of the sixth on four hits and a hit batsman by Josiah Crowley before Max Storch (1-1) got the final out and then pitched a scoreless eighth to get his first win of the season. Jose Amaro then closed out the win, striking out three in the ninth.
Jake Martin got the pitching start, giving up one run on one hit, walking four and striking out two in two innings. Matt Fred struck out five while giving up two hits in his two innings while Hunter Paxton and Zavior Morin each pitched a scoreless inning, striking out one apiece.,