by Alan Hoskins
Kansas City Kansas Community College landed the first haymaker of the NJCAA baseball super-regional Friday, dealing No. 1 seeded and 15th ranked Johnson County a 3-2 opening round defeat at Wichita’s Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
The come-from-behind win advanced the Blue Devils (37-20) into a winner’s bracket clash today with Garden City (37-21) at 4 p.m., a game that will be streamed through the kjccc.org website. A win would send KCKCC against today’s Cowley-Hutchinson winner Sunday at 4 p.m., a loss would drop them into a loser’s bracket elimination game at 1 p.m. Sunday.
The Blue Devils got a brilliant pitching performance from Geoffrey Birkemeier, a freshman righthander from Papillion, Neb., who did not allow an earned run while allowing just six hits, striking out four and walking five. The only runs off Birkemeier came on a throwing error with two out in the fourth inning and another throwing error in the sixth when the Cavaliers scored without a hit.
Trailing 2-0, the Blue Devils tied the game in the eighth. Garrett McKinzie and Christian Arnold singled with one out and Daniel LaMunyon walked on four pitches to load the bases against JCCC ace Aaron Schnurbusch. On a 1-2 pitch, Schnurbusch hit KCKCC’s Tyler Raymond to score one run and the tying run scored on Alex Thrower’s first pitch squeeze bunt.
Shortstop Zane Mapes started KCKCC’s game-winning ninth against reliever Derek Beier with a single and raced all the way to third on Beier’s throwing error on Lucas Norton’s bunt single. One out later, Brenndon Tindall was hit by a pitch to load the bases before Mapes scored the game-winner when Christian Arnold beat the throw to first on an attempted inning-ending double play on a ground ball to short. Birkemeier then finished off the Cavaliers with a game-ending strikeout after a two-out single.
The win was particularly gratifying for the Blue Devils, who had been swept in four games by Johnson County (44-12) the second week of the Jayhawk season.