by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
Stung by 3-1 opening game loss to Jayhawk Conference leader Cowley College Thursday, Kansas City Kansas Community College rebounded furiously in the nightcap, scoring five runs in the first inning on the way to a 7-6 win in 10 innings.
The split kept Cowley (19-3) in first place and KCKCC (20-6) in third behind Johnson County (16-4) in a three-team race that will resume Saturday when the Blue Devils and Tigers meet again at 1 p.m. in Arkansas City.
This has been a season for late-inning dramatics for the Blue Devils and Thursday’s second game was no exception.
Matt Schrick, a freshman outfielder from Atchison, delivered the biggest hit of his young collegiate career – his first triple to straight-away center field that opened the bottom of the 10th inning. After a ground ball out, the Tigers walked the bases-loaded only to have pinch-hitter J.T. Goodfellow foil the strategy with a single up the middle and set off yet another wild Blue Devil celebration.
“Another fun walk-off win at home,” KCKCC coach Matt Goldbeck said. “A big leadoff triple by Schrick and J.T. came through with the big pinch-hit single. Now we have to get ready for a rough return trip down there.”
The hit made a winner out of Gaby Ramos (4-2), who pitched three scoreless innings of relief on the heels of two scoreless frames by Zavier Morin.
Morin came on in relief after Cowley had opened the sixth inning with two doubles and a single on the way to taking a 6-5 lead. A right-hander from Gardner-Edgerton, Morin gave up a tie-breaking single but escaped further damage and then pitched a hitless seventh inning. Ramos took it the rest of the way, allowing three hits in three scoreless innings.
Trailing 2-0 going into the bottom of the first inning, five of the first six Blue Devils to come to the plate lashed base hits.
Singles by Eduardo Acosta and Eric Hinostroza ignited the rally, both scoring on Jose Sosa’s double to the leftfield fence. Singles by Tyler Henry and Kemper Bednar and Griffin Everitt’s ground ball to first scored two more and the fifth run came when Bednar alertly raced home as Everitt was caught in a rundown on an attempted steal of second.
KCKCC’s sixth run tied the game in the sixth. Acosta singled, went to second on a walk and scored as the Tigers failed on a double play attempt on a Kevin Santiago ground ball. Both teams finished with 13 hits. Acosta led the Blue Devils with two singles and a double while Henry and Everitt each singled twice.
Carlos Soto got the start for KCKCC, giving up two runs on just one hit in the first, a two-out, two-run single by Daniel DeSimone after the Tigers had loaded the bases on two walks and a hit batsman.
George Specht’s home run to right cut the Blue Devil lead to 5-3 in the second. Paxton came on in the third after Soto’s sixth walk and pitched two scoreless innings before Cowley’s three straight hits to start the sixth.
Cowley managed just two hits off Orlando Ortiz (6-2) but they proved more than enough in the Tigers’ 3-1 opening game win.
Cowley took a 1-0 lead on an unearned run in the first, scoring on a two-base throwing error, wild pitch and a ground ball. The Tigers’ only hit through the first six innings came in the third, a run-scoring double by Cody Milligan following a walk.
Cowley’s only other hit came with two out in the seventh, an opposite field single by Tyler Halstead following a hit batsman and a walk.
“Orlando deserved better than he got,” Goldbeck said. “We made a couple of mistakes and that was the ball game.” Ortiz struck out nine and walked three.
KCKCC’s lone run came in the fourth on a Sosa single and Henry triple. The Blue Devils had only two other hits, both in the second.
Sosa doubled but then was thrown out at the plate on a single by Henry. Andrew Roach allowed the four hits in five innings, striking out six, before Ryan Westerhoff worked the final two innings, fanning three.