Kansas City Kansas Community College went to the wire yet another time for a last-inning win and then turned on the after-burners for a sweep of Allen County Friday.
The 5-4, 15-5 sweep vaulted the Blue Devils (15-7) into undisputed possession of third place and just a game back of Fort Scott and Johnson County (both 16-6) in the wild Jayhawk East Conference race. KCKCC and Allen County (13-9) resumed their four-game series at Iola Saturday before the Blue Devils take on the two league leaders in the final three weeks of the season, facing Fort Scott this coming week and JCCC the final week of the season.
The Blue Devils had to come from behind for both wins over Allen County. Trailing 3-0 from the start and down 4-3 in the seventh of the opener, the Blue Devils rallied to win on four hits, two of them bunts. It was the 11th one-run game in 22 league contests for KCKCC.
Albert Woodard led off the seventh with a ground single to right and after Tyler Pittman was ruled out for interference when his bunt attempt hit his foot, Alex Phillips lashed a hit-and-run single to left that advanced Woodard to third with the tying run. Chase Redick's bunt single couldn't score Woodard but loaded the bases for Brandon Green, who tied the game with a bases-loaded walk on a 3-2 pitch. Easton Fortuna then won it with a perfectly placed suicide squeeze bunt on Connor Bond's first pitch that set off a mass exodus from the dugout by the jubilant Blue Devils.
Allen County took advantage of three Jake Purl walks, a wild pitch and a two-out single by Nathan Best to take a 3-0 lead in the first but Purl settled down to allow only one more run the next five innings, a 420-foot home run by Sky-lar Culver in the third inning. Purl allowed six hits, struck out five and walked four in six innings before Cole Gacke got the win with a scoreless seventh.
KCKCC used extra base hits for its first three runs. Woodard doubled and Pittman singled for the Blue Devils' first run in the first, Josh Schumacher tripled in a run after a two-out Drew Holtgrieve single in the second; and Phillips tripled and scored on Redick's single in the fifth. Woodard, Phillips, Redick and Holtgrieve each had a pair of hits as KCKCC outhit the Red Devils 12-7.
The top two hitters in the Blue Devil lineup, Woodard and Pittman, had four hits each and scored a combined five runs; Holtgrieve and Schumacher both had a pair at the bottom of the order; and Phillips and Redick drove in three runs apiece in a 17-hit attack in the 8-inning 15-5 nightcap.
That made a winner out of Chad Cox, who allowed seven hits, struck out eight and walked two in going the route. Most of the damage against Cox came in the third when Culver capped a 4-run uprising with a 3-run home run, his second of the day.
KCKCC had gone ahead 4-1 in the second on four straight hits – a double by Ty Bradshaw and singles by Holtgrieve, Schumacher and Woodard – a walk, Phillips' sacrifice fly and bunt single by Redick. Down 5-4 in the fourth, the Blue Devils went ahead to stay 6-5 on a double by Pittman, triple by Phillips and Redick's RBI ground ball.
Two hit batsman, a single by Green and a 2-run single by Holtgrieve highlighted a 3-run sixth; a single by Woodard and double by Pittman set up RBI's for Phillips and Redick in the seventh; and the Blue Devils finished it with four runs in the eighth. After a hit batsman and a walk, Schumacher and Woodard singled in runs and Pittman ended it with a 2-run double.
PHOTO IDENT (2 photos)
With pinchrunner Dade Wheeler breaking for home, KCKCC second baseman Easton Fortuna laid down a perfectly place suicide squeeze bunt that gave the Blue Devils a 5-4 win over Allen County and set off a wild rush of jubilant KCKCC players to mob Fortuna for his game-winner. The Blue Devils then completed a sweep with a 15-5 second game win. (KCKCC Photos by Alan Hoskins)