by Alan Hoskins
Kansas City Kansas Community College continued its assault on Jayhawk Conference leaders Friday, knocking Coffeyville out of first place behind the shutout pitching of freshmen Geoffrey Birkemeier and Preston Bailey.
Birkemeier pitched a 3-hitter in leading the Blue Devils to a 2-0 win in the 7-inning opener; Bailey gave up only two singles and no runs over seven innings in KCKCC’s 4-3 win in the 9-inning nightcap.
The wins were the fifth and sixth in a row over first place teams for KCKCC, which handed previously unbeaten Cowley its first four-game series loss last weekend.
The sweep also stretched KCKCC’s winning streak to eight in a row heading into a return doubleheader Saturday at Coffeyville, which fell to second place at 15-3 behind Johnson County (14-2).
The Blue Devils improved to 8-10 in the conference and evened their overall record at 15-15.
A righthander from Papillion, Neb., Birchemeier allowed only six Ravens to reach base, striking out four and walking two while retiring the final 11 Ravens in order.
The Blue Devils scored the only run they would need in the first. Lucas Norton led off with a single, stole second, took third on an infield error and scored on Christian Arnold’s squeeze bunt.
The second run came in the fifth. Eric Hinostroza led off with a single, moved to third on sacrifice bunts by Tyler Raymond and Zane Mapes and scored on Tanner Foerschler’s base hit. Bailey, a righthander from Savannah, Mo., allowed only one runner to reach second base in seven innings of the nightcap.
The Blue Devils took a 4-0 lead into the ninth before the Red Ravens scored their only runs of the day, scoring three times on three hits and a walk off reliever Hunter Phillips before Phillips stranded the tying run on second.
KCKCC took a 2-0 lead in the third. After a leadoff single by Mitch Glessner, Zane Mapes beat out a bunt and both runners moved up on Foerschler’s sacrifice bunt.
Norton’s sacrifice fly scored the first run and Mapes scored on a double steal.
Garrett McKinzie opened the fourth with a triple and scored on Arnold’s sacrifice fly for a 3-0 lead and Arnold drove in what proved to be the winning run with a two-out single following a hit batsman and a wild pitch in the sixth.
Sporting Kansas City will head west looking for its fist road win of the 2014 MLS regular season against the undefeated Colorado Rapids Saturday in Commerce City, Colo.
The match will be televised on KMCI-TV, Channel 38, with coverage beginning at 4:30 p.m.
Radio broadcasts are on ESPN, 102.9 FM, and La Gran D, 1340 AM.
Sporting KC has won just four games on the road against the Rapids all time, but is in the middle of a seven-game unbeaten streak versus Colorado dating back to 2009, including three draws in Commerce City.
In the last meeting in the series, Benny Feilhaber opened the scoring in the 33rd minute and Graham Zusi notched a late game-winner to give Sporting KC the 2-1 victory at Sporting Park.
Sporting KC and Colorado both earned victories last weekend against Western conference opponents Real Salt Lake and the Portland Timbers.
The Rapids have scored three goals during the 2014 regular season and all have come from the penalty spot, including two in two minutes during last week’s 2-0 victory.