Blue Devils split with Independence; home Tuesday, Thursday

by Alan Hoskins

Kansas City Kansas Community College turned back Independence in a 3-2 opening game thriller Saturday but couldn’t repeat in the nightcap, losing 4-2.

The split left the Blue Devils (12-12) two games back of Independence (14-10) in the race for fifth in the Jayhawk Conference.

KCKCC is right back home Tuesday, playing host to St. Mary JV in a single 9-inning game at 4 p.m., and again Thursday in a doubleheader against Labette starting at 1 p.m.

Winner of 15 of its last 17 games, KCKCC is 20-17 overall.

E.J. Merlo pitched himself out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the seventh to get his third win in Saturday’s 3-2 opener.

A dropped fly ball opened the inning and the Pirates loaded the bases on a single and two-out walk before Merlo struck out Dustin Oliver for the third time, his only strikeouts of the game.

Merlo allowed only five hits, two in the fourth when Indy scored its only runs on a walk, single, error and double.

KCKCC took a 1-0 lead in the third on a leadoff single by Tanner Foerschler, a sacrifice bunt by Zane Mapes and Luke Norton’s run-scoring single and then erased Indy’s 2-1 lead with two runs in the fourth.

After Christian Arnold reached on an error, Eric Hinostroza doubled. Mitch Glessner’s ground ball scored Arnold with the tying run and Daniel LaMunyon singled in Hinostroza for what was the game-winner.

Indy took a 2-0 lead in the third in the nightcap, scoring twice on a double, single and an error that made one of the runs unearned against KCKCC starter Hunter Phillips, and then added two insurance runs in the sixth with two out, scoring on a single, hit batsman, double and bases-loaded walk.

Tyler Raymond launched his first home run of the season in the eighth inning to go along with a double and single.

Garrett McKinzie also had three hits including a run-scoring single in the third following a hit batsman and ground ball. Pirate hurlers combined to retire 13 of the final 14 batters faced.

Annual Ethnic Festival to celebrate diversity


Karen Hernandez, Melanie Scott and Curtis Smith are among the committee members for the 9th annual Wyandotte County Ethnic Festival: “A Human Family Reunion,” which is April 12 on the KCKCC campus. Hernandez and Scott, co-founders of the festival, will also be recognized with the Legends of Diversity Award. (Photo from KCKCC)

by Kelly Rogge

Music, dancing and ethnic foods will fill the Kansas City Kansas Community College Field House as part of the 9th annual Wyandotte County Ethnic Festival: A Human Family Reunion.

“This is a great way for people in our community to experience how diverse food, music, art and dance generates a healthy, optimistic sense of shared well-being,” said Curtis V. Smith, a biology professor at KCKCC and one of the festival’s organizers. “This serves an academic purpose, but it also serves as a way to bring the community together.”

The Wyandotte County Ethnic Festival is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 12 in the KCKCC Field House, 7250 State Ave. Admission and parking are free. Ethnic food will also be available for purchase.

The festival was introduced as a way to celebrate Wyandotte County’s greatest asset – its diversity.

Karen Hernandez, co-founder of the festival and a former member of the KCKCC Board of Trustees, said that it is grounded in Martin Luther King’s vision of what being part of a “Beloved Community” meant, equal opportunity and justice built on a solid foundation of agape or brotherly love.

“The Human Family Reunion is designed to foster a climate of inclusiveness, promote better human relations and educate each other about our cultural differences,” she said. “People want to come out to try the food from different countries, but it is also an opportunity to celebrate our common humanity.”

More than 50 organizations, countries and ethnicities from Wyandotte County will be represented at the festival through booths as well as onstage entertainment.

Clarence Small will once again serve as master of ceremonies, and Shawn Derritt, director of advising at KCKCC and gospel singer, will kick-off the event with the national anthem and “America the Beautiful.”

Another annual tradition is the awarding of the Legends of Diversity Award. It will be presented at 12:15 p.m. to the two co-founders of the festival, Hernandez and Melanie Scott, professor in the social and behavioral sciences department and former director of the Intercultural Center at KCKCC.

Among the criteria to be selected for the award are participation in organizing, planning or representing a country or ethnic group at the ethnic festival or culturally-related event in the Kansas City area; has made an effort to work together with a variety of people on issues benefiting the community; engineering the idea of peace and the spirit of cooperation in the community and world and reflecting with actions the ideal of building community.

Past honorees of the Legends of Diversity Award include Loren Taylor, Pat Adams, Ed Grisnik, Chester Owens, Helen Walsh Folsom and Carol Levers.

Everyone attending the festival will receive a souvenir program with blank “passport” pages. These can be stamped at the various booths. There will then be a door prize drawing at the end of the program from all of the completed stamped passport pages that have been turned in at the Martin Luther King Jr. exhibit.

In addition, Hernandez will be giving out one free book to each person who turns in a ticket received at the festival entrance, while supplies last.

Among the entertainment groups are The Gumbas, an Italian folk music group, who will perform at 12:30 p.m. and Danny Hinds, a Caribbean drumming and dance group. Danny Hinds will perform at 3 p.m.

In addition, the Hrvatski Obicaj Croatian Orchestra is returning as well as the Ed Grisnik Orchestra, featuring John Soptick.

Other performers include Roger Suggs, the St. Monica Inspirational Choir and the West of Marakesh Dancers.

The Creative Children’s Corner, coordinated by KCKCC’s Barbara Clark-Evans, will be located on the inside right of the Field House.

The food court area will include ethnic foods from West Africa and Kenya as well as “Soul Food,” prepared by the Renewed Hope Christian Church.

Students from KCKCC-TEC’s Culinary Arts Program will also be preparing Italian, Greek and Brazilian dishes. Water and mint tea will be available for free.

A spokesman said the Wyandotte County Ethnic Festival is thankful to its sponsors, the Unified Government Human Relations Commission; Brian Bode, vice-president of administrative services at KCKCC and the staff of Buildings and Grounds.

“Karen and I were just the visionaries,” Scott said. “He (Curtis Smith) was the one who took on the project and kept with it, transforming it into something fantastic. It gets the stakeholders to visit campus and becomes such a gathering for the community.”

For more information on the ethnic festival, visit

Kelly Rogge is the public information supervisor at Kansas City Kansas Community College.

KCKCC streak ends at 14; Blue Devils play host to Independence Saturday

by Alan Hoskins  

Kansas City Kansas Community College’s winning streak finally came to an end Thursday but not before the Blue Devils had extended it to 14 in a row with an opening 6-5 10-inning win at Independence.

The Pirates, however, rebounded for a 9-2 win in the 7-inning nightcap to set up a pivotal doubleheader at KCKCC Saturday at 2 p.m.

The Blue Devils (11-11) trail Independence (13-9) by two games in the race for fifth in the Jayhawk Conference.

“It would be fun to win 15 in a row but you have to play well to do it,” said KCKCC coach Steve Burleson. “Fortunately, our first game mistakes didn’t extend into extra innings but we played poorly in the second game. If you don’t defend, don’t make pitches and don’t swing the bats in key situations, it’s tough to win and we didn’t.”

Sam Baxter’s third hit of the game, a two-out single in the top of the 10th, lifted the Blue Devils to the 6-5 opening win.

Daniel LaMunyon’s double following a leadoff hit batsman set up the winning run.

The Blue Devils took a 3-0 lead in the second inning and extended it to 5-1 in the fifth. A double by Christian Arnold, single by Eric Hinostroza and Tyler Raymond’s sacrifice fly scored one run and Tanner Foerschler doubled in two more in the second.

A single by Baxter, double by Garrett McKinzie, Arnold’s sacrifice fly and Hinostroza’s second hit added the two runs in the fifth.

A faulty KCKCC defense let Indy tie the game in the fifth. With the bases loaded, two throwing errors enabled Indy to score all four runs.

Indy’s first run also came after a leadoff error, Geoff Birkemeier worked the first 6.1 innings, allowing six innings and no earned runs before Hunter Phillips got the win, allowing three hits and striking out five in 3.1 innings.

The Blue Devils couldn’t overcome a rash of errors in the nightcap as the Pirates took advantage of three miscues to score four of their nine runs in the third and fourth innings.

Ethan Beckett swung the big bat for Indy, rapping out three extra base hits including a two-run home run in a 4-run third and a two-run triple in a 5-run fifth.

Christian Arnold’s belted his team-leading sixth home run of the season in the sixth while Mitch Glessner drove in the other run in the second with one of his three singles.

LaMunyon also had two hits and Luke Norton a double against Indy’s Corey Bayles, who struck out five in an 8-hit effort.