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by Alan Hoskins

The biggest comeback in Jayhawk Conference baseball came to a temporary halt Monday in Kansas City Kansas Community College’s 5-0 opening loss at Allen County.

Off to a 2-10 conference start, Coach Steve Burleson’s comeback kids bounced back to win 20 of their next 22 games – the best record in the league over the past six weeks. Still, the Blue Devils needed a sweep at Allen County to host the first round of the Region VI playoffs.

As a result, the Blue Devils will open a best-of-three series at Colby Saturday. Two games will be played Saturday starting at 1 p.m. with a third game if necessary on Sunday.

“As soon as the game was over, we started the post-season,” said Burleson, whose Blue Devils won the second game 11-1. “You still have to win two of three games wherever you play. We’ve played well on the road and it’s still the same 90 feet.”

John Prochaska, a 6-2 lefthanded sophomore, blanked the Blue Devils on two hits in the 5-0 opener, striking out five and walking four in six innings.

“He pitched well,” Burleson said. “We only had two hits and hit three balls hard. We put a runner on third with no one out in the first and did not score and had men on second and third with one out in the second and did not score and that pretty well set the tone for the game. A run or two then would have changed a lot of things.”

Daniel LaMunyon had a leadoff single in the fourth and Christian Arnold a one-out single in the sixth for the Blue Devils, who had runners reach base in each inning but the seventh. Allen took advantage of a two-out walk in the second and a leadoff walk in the third to take a 2-0 lead and then added a single run in the fourth and two in the sixth off E.J. Merlo.

The Blue Devils bounced back with an 11-hit assault in the nightcap with Garrett McKinzie, Tyler Raymond and Mitch Glessner rapping out three each and LaMunyon and Zane Mapes two apiece.  Mapes drove in four runs with a double, single and two-run bunt. Two of McKinzie’s hits were doubles.

Trailing 1-0 on an unearned run in the first, KCKCC tied the game on Mapes’ two-out double in the second and then went ahead 2-1 on LaMunyon’s two out double in the third. The Blue Devils added two runs in the sixth on singles by LaMunyon, Glessner and Mapes’ sacrifice bunt and then closed out the game with four runs in the seventh and three in the eighth. Glessner, Mapes, Raymond and Arnold had singles and McKinzie a double in the seventh and Raymond and McKinzie started the 3-run eighth with back-to-back doubles.

Jonathan May got the pitching win, allowing just two singles and striking out six over the final six innings.

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A downtown Kansas City, Kan., redevelopment project was proposed at a Unified Government committee meeting Monday night.

Former Mayor Joe Reardon appeared as the lawyer for a redevelopment project at 736 Minnesota Ave. from Loretto Commercial Development.

The Economic Development and Finance Standing Committee unanimously recommended the project, which will go to the UG Commission for approval.

Loretto Commercial Development LLC is redeveloping several downtown properties in the 600 and 800 blocks of Minnesota Avenue, according to James Arkell, vice president of operations with Loretto Development, who attended the meeting.

The building at 736 Minnesota is currently owned by the UG, and would be purchased by the developer for $100,000, according to UG documents. The developer would agree to invest $1 million to $1.5 million in redevelopment improvements in buildings along the avenue.

As part of the redevelopment plan, historic street fronts would be restored of some of the buildings along Minnesota Avenue. The 736 Minnesota project was compared to the recent renovation of the Kansas City, Kan., Chamber of Commerce office nearby.

The developer asked the commission to move up street improvements on Minnesota Avenue, that were scheduled for 2017-2018, to 2014-2015. According to the UG staff, those improvements were an estimated $1.4 million, although the UG will have the option to reduce it by about a half-million. The capital budget will have to be set by the end of July.

The founders of Loretto Properties, according to its website, are Lamar Hunt Jr., whose father founded the Kansas City Chiefs, and Arkell.

Arkell works in operations with the company. Its parent company is Loretto Charities, and Arkell explained to the commission that he came across the Kansas City, Kan., downtown area when he was working with the Little Sisters of the Lamb, which has a new building in Kansas City, Kan.

Arkell told the commission Loretto Properties is currently renovating the old Katz building on Minnesota Avenue, which is near the 736 Minnesota site. His intent is to make the building’s exterior look like it did when it was first built, and also doing an entire new interior. Arkell said he is committed to “do it right.” The cost of renovations to the old Katz building was expected to be $900,000. UG officials said the 736 Minnesota building needed extensive maintenance, so it was to the UG’s advantage to sell it.

Arkell said he is currently meeting with prospective tenants for the buildings. One that has shown interest is an architectural firm, he said. A café or coffee shop also is interested in locating there.

Commissioner Brian McKiernan said he was impressed with Arkell’s vision and passion for doing the project and doing it right. He said he hoped it would be a springboard for development in the future.

“I am so grateful you have come to our downtown,” McKiernan said. The project capitalizes on the new downtown transit center and also the new bus route, and it could be the seed that moves downtown forward, he added.

The commissioners all liked the project, including Commissioner Gayle Townsend, who noted she used to sell records in the old Katz building.

Commissioners Ann Murguia and Townsend, as well as David Alvey, a member of the committee, were concerned about where the money would come from out of the capital maintenance and improvement budget for moving up the street improvements. UG Administrator Doug Bach assured the commissioners that the CMIP budget was flexible and that projects could be rotated.

UG staff and commissioners may have to work out a plan to move some projects back to advance the Minnesota Avenue street improvements. Bach said this often happened in the CMIP budget, and that the UG expected it to happen as new projects come forward.

The 736 Minnesota property had been in the UG Land Bank until recently. It was built in 1930, according to a real estate listing.

With the approval at the committee meeting, the project may advance to come before the full UG Commission for a vote at a future date.

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Two accidents were reported on April 27 on highways in Wyandotte County.

One accident happened at 7:23 I-635 northbound at Metropolitan, according to a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper’s report.
A 1996 Toyota was northbound on I-635 when it hydroplaned and struck the median wall, then entered the east ditch, the trooper’s report stated.
A 22-year-old Kansas City, Kan., woman was injured and taken to the hospital.

At 6:35 p.m. April 27 on I-435 just south of Kansas Avenue, a 2008 Mitsubishi was southbound in the center lane. It changed to the left lane and struck and unknown vehicle, and spun in the lane. It then struck the guard rail and came to rest in the median, the trooper’s report stated.

A 21-year-old Lenexa, Kan., driver was injured and taken to the hospital, the report stated.