by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
Their home playoff hopes dashed by Jayhawk East champion Cowley College, Kansas City Kansas Community College’s Blue Devils will close out their home season Tuesday with a single 9-inning game against State Fair at 1 p.m.
Ranked No. 13 nationally, Cowley completed a four-game sweep of the Blue Devils Saturday, winning 10-3 and 10-1.
The losses dropped KCKCC (17-19) into a tie with Independence for sixth and seventh in the Jayhawk East and sends KCKCC into opening Region VI playoff action Friday at Butler County, the runnerup in the Jayhawk West at 20-12.
Game two of the best-of-three series will be played Saturday with a third game if necessary on Sunday. Starting times have yet to be announced.
Cowley scored 20 runs in its sweep of KCKCC Saturday – 14 of the runs came in two innings.
The most devastating inning came in the 9-inning second game. With KCKCC leading 1-0, the Tigers exploded for eight runs on just three hits and seven walks given up by two Blue Devil hurlers. Parker Dunn ignited the big inning with a leadoff triple and then capped it with a bases-loaded triple.
KCKCC starter Bret Snider, who had a no-hitter through four innings, gave up just one hit but walked six in allowing five runs and Gunner Vestal walked three and gave up two hits before Gavin Gifford pitched the final 4 1/3 innings, allowing two hits, two runs, walking one and fanning four.
Meanwhile, Cowley’s Ryan Masteroff was giving up just one hit, one run, striking out eight and walking three in six innings. The lone run came in the second. Josh Schumacher walked, Tyler Pittman singled and Schumacher scored on a double steal. KCKCC finished with just four hits, two by Pittman and one each by Schumacher and Jared Goodfellow.
Cowley opened the day by bashing out 14 hits in the 7-inning 10-3 win while three Tiger hurlers limited the Blue Devils to just six hits.
Still, KCKCC trailed only 4-3 when Cowley scored six times on four hits and three walks in the fifth.
Starter Carlos Soto took the loss, allowing 11 hits and six runs and reliever Julian Rivera was touched for four runs (two earned) on two hits and three walks before Allan Brown and Vestal shut down the Tigers the final two innings.
Trailing 2-0, KCKCC tied the game in the second on singles by Brandon Still and Kevin Santiago, an error and Kemper Bednar’s sacrifice fly.
Cowley regained the lead 4-2 on three hits in the third but KCKCC got one of those back on Rorey Combs’ one-out home run to right-center in the bottom of the inning. However, KCKCC managed only three hits the final four innings, two by Adam North and one by Pittman.
Cowley’s sweep enabled the Tigers to finish the conference season 32-4 and 40-9 overall. Fort Scott (26-9) was a solid second while Johnson County and Neosho County (both 19-17) moved past Coffeyville into third and fourth and will have playoff openers at home.