Kansas City Kansas Community College wasted no time in moving on in the Region VI baseball playoffs Saturday.
Surging to a 6-0 lead in the first inning, the Blue Devils needed just seven innings for a 13-0 rout of Barton County in the first game of the best-of-three series, then completed the sweep with a come-from-behind 7-3 win in the 9-inning nightcap.
The wins advance the Blue Devils (40-18) into the 8-team super-regional at Wichita's Dumont Stadium. The No. 5 seed, KCKCC will open the double elimination tournament against No. 4 Hutchinson Friday at 10 a.m. The No. 4 seed, Hutchinson needed three games to get past Independence, overcoming an 8-1 deficit for a 16-14 win in the decisivel third game Sunday after splitting a pair of wild decisions Saturday, winning 25-3 and losing 17-16.
The Blue Devils rode the pitching of Brandon Reid, Jake Purl and Avery Fliger to the sweep of Barton County. Reid (5-2) gave up just two hits in the 13-0 opener while Fliger was near perfect in three innings of relief after Purl scattered six hits over six hits in improving his record to 8-2.
"Reid and Fliger really pitched well and I don't think there were more than two hard hit balls off Purl," said KCKCC Coach Matt Goldbeck. "The offense got in a lot of good swings so it was good to get the playoffs off to a good start and look forward to going to Wichita."
Reid gave up a one-out single in the second and a leadoff double in the fourth in the opener. The only other runners to reach base against the sophomore righthander came on two hit batsmen and an error.
Drew Holtgrieve drove in three runs with a pair of doubles and a single; Ryan Fisher doubled and singled twice; and Conor Behrens tripled twice to pace a 15-hit Blue Devil attack. Chase Redick and Easton Fortuna added a pair of singles and Travis Stroup a double as KCKCC, aided by five Barton errors, scored in every inning but the third.
Behrens put KCKCC ahead to stay with a triple following a leadoff single by Redick in the first and Fisher, Albert Woodard and Fortuna each had run-scoring singles in the 6-run first inning. Behrens' second triple, a double by Fisher and single by Holtgrieve made it 8-0 in the second and KCKCC added three more runs in the fourth on Holtgrieve's 2-run double and Ty Bradshaw's RBI single following an error and Fisher single. Stroup' double led to a run in the fifth and Holtgrieve ripped his second double and scored on Bradshaw's ground ball for his second run-batted-in.
KCKCC twice had to overcome Barton one-run leads in the nightcap. Redick led the way with four singles while Stroup and Fisher each homered.
Barton took advantage of two hit batsmen to take a 1-0 lead in the first. The Blue Devils tied it in the third on a walk, Redick's bunt single and a Stroup ground ball and then went ahead 2-1 in the fourth on Fisher's sixth home run of the season that cleared the fence in right-center. Barton got even on a two-out double in the fifth and went ahead 3-2 in the sixth on a triple and single, both with two out.
KCKCC took advantage of Barton wildness to take command with a 2-out, 4-run sixth inning, Albert Woodard started it with a 2-out double and after two walks loaded the bases, a passed ball scored the tying run and singles by Fortuna and Redick put the Blue Devils ahead to stay. Stroup added an insurance run with his 13th home run of the season in the eighth, a line shot to left, while Fliger retired the side in order in the seventh and eighth before surrendering a 2-out single in the ninth.
PHOTO IDENTS High fives
There were "high fives" all around for KCKCC sophomore third baseman Travis Stroup after his 13th home run of the season helped the Blue Devils to a 7-3 win and a sweep of Barton County in opening round playoff action Saturday. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)