Blue Devils gain split; unbeaten league leader JCCC next

by Alan Hoskins

Strong pitching by southpaw Hunter Phillips and reliever Eric Hinostroza snapped Kansas City Kansas Community College’s 5-game losing streak with a 3-2 win at Fort Scott Monday after the Greyhounds had extended the streak with a 5-2 opening game win.

The win kept KCKCC in a tie with Fort Scott for sixth in the Jayhawk at 2-6 and 7-11 overall heading into a four-game series with league-leading Johnson County, 8-0 in the Jayhawk and 16-2 overall.

The four-game set kicks off with two games at JCCC Thursday at 1 p.m. and then concludes Saturday with a doubleheader at KCKCC, also at 1 p.m.

Phillips pitched the first seven innings of the nightcap, allowing just five hits, striking out five and walking three and got the win when the Blue Devils broke a 2-2 deadlock in the top of the eighth on Luke Norton’s two-out single following a pair of walks.

Hinostroza then came on to work the final two innings, allowing one hit, fanning three and giving up two walks before stranding the tying run on third with a two-out strikeout in the bottom of the ninth.

Fort Scott took a 1-0 lead in the first on a single and double but the Blue Devils took advantage of a shaky Panther defense to tie it in the second and go ahead in the third.

Norton’s squeeze bunt following two errors and a Zane Mapes’ single scored the tying run and the Blue Devils went ahead on singles by Hinostroza and Garrett McKinzie in the third.

Hinostroza, Norton and LaMunyon each had a pair of hits in the 10-hit KCKCC attack.

KCKCC jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning of the nightcap, scoring on McKinzie’s two-run double following singles by Norton and Hinostroza but the Blue Devils managed only three hits the rest of the way.

The Blue Devils still led 2-1 in the fourth when the Panthers took advantage on an error and passed ball to score four unearned runs off tough luck loser Geoff Birkemier, who gave up just six hits in six innings.

“When we make an error, it seems to become epidemic and that’s what we need to avoid,” said KCKCC coach Steve Burleson. “We need to isolate the errors and play better baseball.”

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