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.