Despite being swept at No. 1 ranked Neosho County last Saturday, Kansas City Kansas Community College will be the Jayhawk East's No. 3 seeded team in Region VI playoff action Saturday.
The third place finisher in the East, the Blue Devils will host the Jayhawk West's No. 6 team, Barton County, in a best-of-three series for the right to advance to the 8-team regional tournament at Wichita May 13-17. The first game will start at 1 p.m. with a second game to follow with a third game if necessary on Sunday afternoon. All games are 9-inning contests.
With 5-3 and 20-8 wins over KCKCC Saturday, Neosho (28-8) won the Jayhawk East by three games over Cowley (25-11) while KCKCC and Johnson County tied for third at 22-13. However, KCKCC received the higher seed by winning three of four games in their head-to-head series.
The Blue Devils rebounded from the Neosho losses Sunday with 14-1 and 7-6 home wins over North Arkansas and will close out non-conference play Tuesday when they host Maple Woods in a single 9-inning game at 2 p.m.
Blue Devils Coach Matt Goldbeck gave several of his regulars the day off against North Ark Sunday, especially in the nightcap and the move paid off handsomely. Ty Bradshaw was 5-for-6 in the two games including three in the opener. Caleb Gray also had three hits in the opener including a 2-run triple while regulars Chase Redick, Albert Woodard and Travis Stroup each had a pair.
The first five hitters in the Blue Devil lineup had extra base hits in the 14-1 opener. After back-to-back triples by Redick and Woodard, Stroup and Ryan Fisher ripped back-to-back home runs. Zach Mahoney followed with a double and scored on Gray's 2-run triple before Bradshaw and Woodard singled in runs in the 8-0 start.
The Blue Devils added five more runs in the third on consecutive singles by Levi Froud, Gray, Bradshaw and Redick and sacrifice flies by Woodard and Fisher sandwiched around a Stroup double. Singles by Malone Smith, Gray and Bradshaw in the fourth made a winner out of Colton Kenagy, who allowed just two hits and one run over four innings before Gunnar Vestal pitched a scoreless fifth.
Trailing 5-1 in the bottom of the sixth, the Blue Devils scored six runs on six hits in the 8-7 nightcap win. Loading the bases without a hit, the Blue Devils scored three runs on a sacrifice fly by Ryne McDonald, a ground ball by Gray and a Bradshaw single; then re-loaded the bases on two walks to set up a 2-run double to right by Conor Behrens for a 6-5 lead. Easton Fortuna then added what proved to be the winning run, stealing home as Behrens was caught in a rundown. Daulton Smith, Behrens and Bradshaw each had two hits for KCKCC, which was outhit 11-7. However, Ross Perez came in the fourth inning and gave up just four hits and one run to get the win.
One bad inning was the difference in KCKCC's 5-3 loss in Saturday's opener at Neosho. Tied 1-1, the Panthers scored one run on two singles and a wild pitch and loaded the bases on two walks by Jake Purl. That brought on relief ace Avery Fliger (7-1), who gave up a bases-clearing double to Ryan Tolliver before retiring eight of the final nine hitters he faced.
KCKCC had an 8-6 edge in hits with Stroup and Eli Lovell each contributing two hits while Drew Holtgrieve doubled and drove in two runs. Singles by Stroup and Lovell and Holtgrieve's two-out double tied the game 1-1 in the fourth. Singles by Albert Woodard and Chase Redick scored the Blue Devils' second run in the fifth and the final run came in the sixth on singles by Lovell and Ryan Fisher and Holtgrieve's sacrifice fly.
Pounding seven home runs and 25 hits, Neosho scored in every inning in the 20-8 nightcap. Brylie Ware and Blake Tomasino each had a pair of round-trippers against four KCKCC hurlers.
Ryan Fisher and Behrens each homered for KCKCC while Chase Redick had three singles and Albert Woodard a pair in an 11-hit KCKCC attack. Trailing 4-0, the Blue Devils scored twice on a double by Lovell and Fisher's 2-run homer to right and then pulled even 6-6 in the third. Behrens started the fourth with a home run and singles by Stroup, Holtgrieve and Woodard added three more runs.
Neosho went back in front 7-6 in the third but KCKCC again pulled even in the fourth when Redick singled, stole second, took third on a wild pitch and scored on Lovell's ground only to have the Panthers score four times in the bottom of the inning, three more in the fifth on consecutive home runs by Ware, Ryan Tolliver and Evan Bourn and then end it in the seventh with a 5-run outburst, the final three coming on Ware's second homer.