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DRAMATIC 7TH INNING RALLY LETS KCKCC SPLIT CONFERENCE OPENER

DRAMATIC 7TH INNING RALLY LETS KCKCC SPLIT CONFERENCE OPENER

Kansas City Kansas Community College beat the weekend's snow to open the Jayhawk Conference baseball season Friday, rallying for a dramatic 4-3 nightcap win after dropping a 10-inning 8-5 decision to Fort Scott.

            Trailing 3-2 in the second game, sophomore centerfielder Lucas Norton tied the game in the bottom of the seventh with his fourth straight hit following a leadoff hit batsman and Zane Mapes' sacrifice bunt. Norton then scored the winning run when pinch hitter, Tanner Thibodeau's one-out ground ball to short with the bases loaded was misplayed.

            Righthander Geoffrey Birkemeier (2-1) went the distance for the win, scattering six hits and allowing no earned runs. His only mistake was giving up a 2-run home run in the fourth inning. "It was a curve ball that was supposed to be a pickoff play," said Birkemeier.

            Norton had half KCKCC's eight hits and drove in two runs while Mapes had two singles and Eric Hinostroza an RBI single.

            The Blue Devils couldn't capitalize on an outstanding relief effort by freshman lefthander, Hunter Phillips in game 1. Phillips came on with two out in the second inning after Fort Scott had scored four unearned runs for a 5-2 lead and pitched shutout baseball over the next 7.1 innings. Fort Scott finally broke through in the 10th, scoring three times on a single and two doubles.

            Lucas again led the way with three singles and an RBI while Christian Arnold homered, Eric Hinostroza singled twice and Garett McKinzie drove in two runs with a single and sacrifice fly. Arnold's towering home run to left pulled KCKCC to within 5-4 in the third inning and the Blue Devils tied the game in the fourth on a ground ball by McKinzie.

            When the Blue Devils play again will be determined by the weather. They're scheduled to travel to Maple Woods on Tuesday, then play host Neosho County Thursday and then travel to Neosho Saturday in Jayhawk twin bills.