Kansas City Kansas Community College bounced back from perhaps the Blue Devils most frustrating loss of the season with a fury Saturday.
Beaten 11-10 in extra innings when Allen County scored six runs in the final two innings, the Blue Devils lashed out 17 hits in an 11-3 nightcap win.
The split enabled the Blue Devils (16-8) to move into a tie with Fort Scott for second place in the Jayhawk Conference and sets up a crucial four-game series with the Greyhounds this week. The first two games will be played at Fort Scott Thursday; the final two at KCKCC on Saturday at 1 p.m. Johnson County (18-6) holds a 2-game lead in the conference with Cowley (14-8) fourth and Allen County and Neosho County tied for fifth at 14-10.
Brandon Green, Chase Redick and Alex Phillips each had three hits and drove in two runs and Julian Rivera was outstanding in relief in the 11-3 second game win. Rivera came in after Allen had cut a 4-0 lead in half against starter Corey Cowan in the fourth inning and allowed just two hits and one run in the final 3.2 innings, striking out seven and walking two.
Meanwhile, the Blue Devils scored at least two runs in five of the seven innings starting in the first after Albert Woodard led off with a double and Tyler Pittman beat out a bunt single. Phillips' sacrifice fly and Redick's single made it 2-0 and the Blue Devils extended the lead to 4-0 in the third on back-to-back-to-back singles by Phillips, Redick, Green and Easton Fortuna.
Green led off the fifth with his fourth home run of the season and singles by Rorey Combs and Josh Schumacher made it 6-2 in the fifth. Phillips, Redick and Green rapped consecutive singles in a 2-run sixth and KCKCC wrapped up the win with three unearned runs in the seventh on hits by Drew Holtgrieve and Phillips and two errors.
The Blue Devils belted four home runs in the opening game only to have five errors make six of Allen County's runs unearned in the 11-10 loss. However, it was Allen's Sky-lar Culvar who had the most telling blasts, a 3-run home in a 5-run game-tying rally in the bottom of the seventh and then the game-winner leading off the bottom of the eighth. Culvar also had two home runs in KCKCC's sweep of two home games on Friday.
Shae Stephens limited Allen to just two hits and struck out nine over the first six innings but the Red Devils took advantage of five walks, three wild pitches and three errors to score five runs, four of which were unearned. Still, KCKCC had a 10-5 lead going into the seventh. Culver followed a single and a walk off reliever Colton Kenagy with a 3-run homer and the Red Devils tied it with two unearned runs off Cole Gacke, the tying run crossing on a 2-out single by Aaron Mason.
Fortuna, Phillips, Redick and Josh Schumacher homered in building KCKCC's 10-5 lead. After Allen had taken a 2-0 lead on a walk and two errors in the first inning, Fortuna started the Blue Devils comeback with a leadoff homer in the second and Phillips and Redick went deep back-to-back for a 3-2 lead in third. It was the eighth homer of the season for Phillips, seventh for Redick.
The Blue Devils bunched five hits for three runs in the fourth. After singles by Fortuna, Ty Bradshaw and Schumacher, Woodard doubled in two runs and Pittman singled in the third. A Brandon Green double led to a run and 7-2 lead in the fifth but Allen countered with three unearned runs in the fifth on an error, single, two walks and two wild pitches that scored runs. Schumacher's home run followed by consecutive singles by Pittman, Phillips and Redick rebuilt the lead to 10-5.
The loss was the 12th one-run game in 24 league contests and fifth game decided in extra innings for the Blue Devils, who are 27-12 overall.
Photo by Jim Cronin