by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
Closing out early non-conference play with an 8-2 win over Baker JV Tuesday, Kansas City Kansas Community College jumps directly into the Jayhawk Conference fire with a home doubleheader against perennial power Cowley College Thursday.
Ranked No. 5 in the NJCAA Division I baseball poll, Cowley comes into the 1 p.m. twin bill the odds-on favorite to win its fifth Jayhawk title in the last nine years and 18th championship since 1988. Conference champion in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015 and a World Series qualifier in 2016, the Tigers have been to the World Series seven times, a conference best.
The Blue Devils will bring an 8-4 record into the conference openers while Cowley is 9-4 after losing three of four to Seminole State.
“The conference championship always goes through Cowley,” KCKCC coach Matt Goldbeck said. “They’re a good club but if we’re going to win the conference, we have to beat the best.”
KCKCC surged to a 6-0 lead in the first two innings while four Blue Devil hurlers were combining on a four-hitter in the win over Baker. Max Storch, a freshman from Olathe South, got the win, allowing three hits and no earned runs in five innings. He struck out five and walked two. Jarrett Cronin and Julian Rivera each pitched one inning and Allan Brown two innings of scoreless relief.
Tyler Pittman led the Blue Devils’ 14-hit attack with four singles and five stolen bases. Six Blue Devils had extra base hits – a triple by Josh Schumacher and doubles from Drew Holtgrieve, Zach Mahoney, Albert Woodard, Easton Fortuna and Alex Phillips. Phillips and Brandon Still each had a pair of hits.
The Blue Devils took a 2-0 lead in the first on doubles by Woodard and Phillips, singles by Pittman and Chase Redick and a sacrifice fly by Holtgrieve and added four more runs in the second. Five Blue Devils had hits in the inning. Schumacher tripled, Mahoney and Holtgrieve doubled and Woodard and Pittman singled.
The final two runs came in the sixth on a walk, a bunt single by Pittman, Holtgrieve’s third RBI on a sacrifice fly and Phillips’ run-scoring single.