Kemper Bednar’s timing could not have been better.
A freshman from St. James Academy, Bednar spent Saturday morning fighting a fever and didn’t arrive at El Dorado’s McDonald Stadium until 30 minutes before game time – just in time to deliver the biggest hit of his young collegiate career, a two-run ninth inning home run that propelled Kansas City Kansas Community College to a playoff-clinching 13-10 win over Butler County.
An opposite field shot to right-center coming after Brigham Mooney had been hit by a pitch, Bednar’s home run was the first of his career and broke a 10-10 deadlock. The Blue Devils added one more run on singles by Gavin Gifford and Adam North and a passed ball and Gifford closed out the win by retiring the final four Grizzlies for the second time in two days.
“It’s a hitter friendly park and the ball just kept carrying and carrying,” said Coach Matt Goldbeck of Bednar’s game-winner. “Out trainer, Jordan Williams, really did a good of getting him ready to play. I was glad we had him.” It was the only hit of the day for Bednar, who had moved into the starting lineup at third base after an injury to sophomore Brandon Green,
Coupled with a 12-11 win on Friday, the win gave the Blue Devils (33-24) a sweep of the best-of-three series and sends them into the 8-team Region VI super-regional starting Friday in Wichita.
Bednar’s home run was KCKCC’s third of the game. Josh Schumacher and Brandon Still also homered with Schumacher finishing with three hits and four runs-batted-in. Gifford also had three hits and Tyler Pittman and North two each as the Blue Devils outhit the Grizzlies 13-9.
KCKCC took a 5-1 lead in the second inning only to trail 8-5 after three innings. The Blue Devils led 1-0 in the first on singles by Pittman and Kevin Santiago and added four more runs in the second, the first three on Schumacher’s 3-run home run to right-center.
Butler cut the lead to 5-4 in the second, scoring three runs on just one hit, and then went ahead in the fourth 9-5 with five unearned runs off KCKCC starter Orlando Ortiz. The big blow was a grand slam home run by shortstop Colby Desville, the Grizzlies No. 9 hitter.
However, Butler would score only one more run the final six innings against Ortiz and three relievers. Ortiz pitched into the sixth inning, allowing seven hits and four earned runs. Southpaw Allan Brown gave up no hits and one run in 1 1/3 innings, and after Julian Rivera had loaded the bases on a hit and two walks in the eighth, Gifford came on to get the final four outs and the win. “I didn’t want to use Gifford because he wouldn’t be available if we had to play Sunday but with the bases loaded, it worked out,” said Goldbeck.
Brandon Still’s home run leading off the seventh finally got KCKCC even 9-9 and the Blue Devils went ahead 10-9 in the eighth when North singled with one out and scored on an outfield error on Schumacher’s third hit of the game. Butler’s tying run in the eighth came on a pair of walks and Jackson Stoule’s two-out single before Gifford came on to leave the bases loaded.
The second place team in the Jayhawk West, Butler finished the season 34-19.
Kansas City Kansas Community College took on one of the Jayhawk Conference’s best Thursday and came away with a pair of come-from-behind wins.
The 7-5, 5-4 sweep of Fort Scott knocked the Greyhounds (17-5) out of a first place tie with Cowley County (19-3) and tightened KCKCC’s hold on fourth place. The Blue Devils are 13-9 and just a game back of third place Johnson County (14-8) heading into two games at Fort Scott Saturday. KCKCC then returns home Tuesday to host Baker University JV in a doubleheader and fifth place Neosho County (11-11) on Thursday. Both twin bills start at 1 p.m.
The Blue Devils trailed 5-2 in the opener before scoring twice in the fifth and three times in the sixth behind the hitting of Kevin Santiago, Brandon Still and Josh Schumacher. A single by Schumacher, a triple by Santiago and a Still double cut the Blue Devil deficit to 5-4 in the fifth.
Aided by a pair of walks, KCKCC tied the game 5-5 in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Tyler Pittman and after a Santiago single, Still scored the game-winners with a two-run double. Still drove in four runs with a double and single; Santiago finished with a single, double and triple; Rorey Combs tripled and singled; and Schumacher singled twice for all of KCKCC’s nine hits.
Sophomore Cole Gacke survived three home runs in running his record to 6-1 in the 7-inning opener. After KCKCC had taken a 2-1 lead in the third on a single by Schumacher, double by Santiago and a Still sacrifice fly, Gacke gave up a solo home run to Sean Moore in the fourth and a solo shot by Ben McConnell and a two-run blast by Andrew Morrow in the fifth. Gacke walked two and struck out seven including three in the seventh.
“A gutsy performance by Cole,” said KCKCC Coach Matt Goldbeck, “He didn’t have his best stuff but he always competes and gives us a chance. Fort Scott has the best hitting team in the conference but our offense just kept answering when they scored. A big hit by Brandon Still and then for Cole to strike out the side in the seventh just shows what kind of competitor he is and how bad he wanted it.”
Late inning triples by Schumacher and Combs rallied the Blue Devils to their 5-4 nightcap win. Trailing 4-3 in the seventh, Schumacher tripled to left-center with his fourth hit of the game and scored the tying run on Pittman’s sacrifice fly off Fort Scott relief ace Kobie Schmitt. Combs then tripled to right-center with one out in the eighth and scored the game-winner on an errant throw on a pickoff attempt at third.
Julian Rivera got the win but only after another standout starting performance by freshman Orlando Ortiz, who allowed just two hits and struck out 13 in 6 1/3 innings. It was the third straight game Ortiz has struck out 10 or more. After giving up two runs in the first on two walks, a hit batsman and the Greyhounds’ only two hits, Ortiz allowed just three base-runners – all on walks – the next five innings.
Oritz left after walking two with one out in the seventh with a 3-2 lead only to have Morrow deliver a two-run triple to right off Rivera with two out. Rivera also gave up a leadoff double in the eighth but then retired six of the next seven hitters.
“To hold Fort Scott to two hits through 6 1/3 innings was outstanding,” said Goldbeck. “Orlando’s Achilles heel was the seven walks, three of which scored. Julian struck out four and other than leaving one pitch up, he was very good. Schumacher had another good game with four hits and Rorey again had the late inning heroics with the triple and scoring the lead run.”
KCKCC scored single runs in the first on a double by Schumacher, bunt single by Pittman and a Santiago ground ball; in the fourth on a single by Brigham Mooney and a double by Gavin Gifford; and in the fifth on a Schumacher single and Santiago double.
PHOTO IDENTS (shu triple)
A head first slide by KCKCC sophomore outfielder Josh Schumacher beats the tag of Fort Scott third baseman Cole Solomon on the triple that set up the tying run in the seventh inning of a 5-4 win Thursday. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)
Kansas City Kansas Community College controls its own destiny in its bid for a first division finish and a home playoff berth but it will take more than a split in doubleheaders.
For the sixth time in eight Jayhawk Conference twin bills, the Blue Devils split a pair of games at home Saturday, winning 2-1 behind the pitching of Carlos Soto but dropping the nightcap 7-6.
The split left the Blue Devils (8-8) in the unique position of having played all the four teams that trail them and an opportunity to knock off the five teams they either trail or are tied with. Fort Scott and Cowley share the Jayhawk lead at 13-3 followed by Neosho County (10-6), Allen County (9-7) and Johnson County and KCKCC, both 8-8.
At Baker University JV in Baldwin Monday at 4 p.m., the Blue Devils (16-12) resume conference play Thursday at Allen County and could vault into fourth place with a sweep. The two teams will then complete their four-game series at KCKCC Saturday at 1 p.m.
A 6-0 freshman righthander from Kissimmee, Fla., Soto allowed just two hits in his best outing of the season in the 2-1 opener. Highland seriously threatened only once, loading the bases with no one out on a single and two hit batsman in the sixth inning. However, Soto got a strikeout, a ground ball to third that scored a run and a fly ball and then retired the Scotties in order in the seventh.
“A great job,” said KCKCC Coach Matt Goldbeck. “We’ve been emphasizing minimizing big scoring innings, not giving up big numbers and Carlos did a great job with the bases loaded – a strikeout, a good play by Brandon Green at third and the fly ball.”
KCKCC was held to four hits by Highland southpaw Justin Riechick. The Blue Devils took a 1-0 lead in the first on a hit batsman and two-out single by Brandon Still and then got the winning run in the second on a single by Green, double by Josh Schumacher and an outfield error.
While KCKCC escaped a bases-loaded jam in the opener, Highland twice got out of a bases full jams in the nightcap, the second time in the ninth. Loading the bases with one out on two walks and a James Bradley single, Highland’s Chris Giordano induced the Blue Devils’ leading hitter, Kevin Santiago, to ground into a game-ending double play. Trailing 7-4 an inning earlier, the Blue Devils had closed the gap to 7-6 on a triple by Santiago and doubles by Gavin Gifford and Brigham Mooney.
The Blue Devils jumped in front 3-0, scoring once in the first on singles by Shumacher and Santiago sandwiched around a Tyler Pittman bunt and added two more in the second on Green’s RBI triple and a Rorey Combs’ ground ball,. KCKCC loaded the bases on three walks with none out in the fifth but managed only one run on an infield ground ball.
Highland got a pair of unearned runs in the third and then went ahead in the fourth, scoring three times against Victor Gotay, who gave up seven hits and six runs in 4 1/3 innings. Bret Snider came on in relief in the fifth, allowing no hits and one unearned run on a two-out error in 3 2/3 innings before Allan Brown pitched a hitless ninth.
PHOTO IDENT (Play of day No. 1 & No. 2)
KCKCC second baseman Brigham Mooney makes a diving stab of a ground ball and then while lying on the ground, flips the ball to shortstop Kevin Santiago (26) for a force out to help preserve a 2-1 win over Highland Saturday. KCKCC third baseman Brandon Young (3) watches the play. (KCKCC Photos by Alan Hoskins)
If Josh Shumacher’s role as leadoff hitter is to lead, he had a heckuva day Tuesday.
A sophomore outfielder from Aurora, Colo., Shumacher lashed three hits, drove in four runs, scored twice and threw out a runner to lead Kansas City Kansas Community College to a 13-3 win over Longview Community College.
The win, the Blue Devils’ fifth in their last six games, lifted their overall record to 14-11 heading into a Jayhawk Conference doubleheader at Highland Thursday. The two teams then close out a four-game series at KCKCC Saturday at 2 p.m.
Shumacher came within a double of hitting for the cycle as he belted a 3-run home run, game-ending triple and a single to pace a 10-hit KCKCC attack. Catcher Adam North of SM South joined in the big assault with four RBI on a bases-loaded double and a single while Kevin Santiago singled and tripled, Gavin Gifford singled twice and James Bradley doubled.
The Blue Devils got their money’s worth out of their 10 hits. Of the 14 Blue Devils reaching base, 13 scored.
Longview took a 1-0 lead on a pair of hits in the first but the Blue Devils quickly went ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the inning. Shumacher led off with a single, Santiago tied it with a triple and scored on Brandon Still’s sacrifice fly. The Blue Devils added a third run in the third on a Brigham Mooney sacrifice fly and then broke the game open with five runs in the fourth.
After an error and a single by Gifford, Julius King’s squeeze bunt scored one run. North singled in another and after a hit batsman, Shumacher launched a 400-foot blast that cleared the fence in centerfield.
The Blue Devils then closed out the win with five runs in the eighth, scoring all five with two out. Singles by Santiago and Gifford and an error loaded the bases before North cleared them with a double. Bailey’s double scored North and Shumacher ended it with a triple.
Freshman Bret Snider made his first pitching start of the season, allowing seven hits including a no doubt two-run home run by Dalton Bearner in the fifth. Snider walked one and struck out two in five innings. Southpaw Hunter Paxton gave up just one hit and struck out three in two innings and Gunner Vestal pitched a hitless eighth inning, striking out two and walking one.
PHOTO IDENT (3 photos)
Shu’s big day….
Josh Shumacher’s big day in leading KCKCC to a 13-3 win over Longview included this 3-run home run, a triple and single and four RBI; a home plate salute of raised helmets from teammates Adam North (33), Brigham Mooney (10), James Bradley and Kevin Santiago (26); and a throw to second baseman Brigham Mooney that cut down Longview’s Clint Jennings trying to stretch a single into a double in the sixth inning. (KCKCC Photos by Alan Hoskins)
With one game already under his belt, third year Kansas City Kansas Community College baseball coach Matt Goldbeck has begun pursuit of a third straight 40-win season – if his squad gets back to full strength..
“We’re waiting for a few guys to get healthy,” says Goldbeck, who may not have at least four possible starters and his No. 1 reliever for the Blue Devils’ 5-game spring trip to the Dallas and Fort Worth area this weekend. The Blue Devils are coming off a 12-10 loss in their season opener against Maple Woods Monday.
Brandon Green, the probable starter at third base; the top two candidates at first base, freshmen Gavin Gifford and Brandon Still; freshman catcher Jared Goodfellow; and sophomore pitchers Maxwell Storch and Julian Rivera are all nursing a variety of injuries or recovering from off-season surgery.
“We can’t use that as an excuse; it’s an opportunity for others to get the chance to play and prove they belong,” says Goldbeck. “There’s going to be plenty of opportunities. No excuses. When someone gets injured, the next guy steps up.”
The Blue Devils finished 40-21 overall and tied for third in the Jayhawk Conference (24-12) last spring but lost virtually their entire starting pitching staff and most of the infield.
The one bright spot for 2018 is the outfield where Josh Schumacher of Aurora, Colo., Tyler Pittman of Blue Springs South and Corey Combs of Truman are all back after big 2017 seasons. Pittman hit .384, drove in 33 runs and stole 35 bases while patrolling centerfield; Schumacher hit .365 and drove in 33 runs in left; and Combs batted .386 with four home runs and 22 RBI primarily as a designated hitter. “We‘re counting on big years from them,” says Goldbeck. “Pittman has game-changing speed; all are big and can run; hard workers and good team leaders who will be at the top of the batting order.”
As it is every season, pitching will be the key. Only three hurlers return, Cole Gacke of Liberty North; Allan Brown, Olathe Northwest; and Rivera of Kissimmee, Fla, A fourth, Max Storch, is sidelined after compiling a 3-0 record in 30 innings last year. Gacke, who was 3-2 in 13 games last season, will be the No. 1 starter; Rivera when healthy the No. 1 closer after posting six saves in 30 games. Brown, who pitched in just eight games last season, will be used mainly in relief.
Joining Gacke in the starting rotation will be a trio of righthanders, Victor Gotay of Kissimmee; Orlando Ortiz, a transfer from Coppin State; and Bret Snider of Liberty North. “Gacke is a great competitor on the mound; the others we’ll have to wait and see,” says Goldbeck. “All three have good arms.”
Brown, sophomore Gunner Vestal of Piper and freshman Carlos Soto of Liberty will head up the long relief corps and spot start. “We’re going to need meaningful innings from them,” says Goldbeck. Ethan Baltz of Lee’s Summit West, Hunter Paxton of Mill Valley and Zach Watson of Pasadena, Tex., also figure in the relief corps along with infielders Brigham Mooney and Gavin Gifford. “Both have good arms and might help if the staff gets short,” says Goldbeck.
A graduate of Blue Springs South, Mooney will start at shortstop after hitting .245 in 24 games last year, while freshman Kevin Santiago of Jayua, Puerto Rico, has the edge over Jason Bradley of St. Louis and Brady Holder of Kearney at second base.
Liberty’s Brandon Green who batted .286 with six home runs and 25 RBI will be at third when healthy. In the meantime, St. James Academy freshman Kemper Bednar will handle the hot corner. With Gavin Gifford of Brighton, Colo., and Brandon Still of Springdale, Ark., both sidelined, redshirt freshman catcher Billy Kelley of Tonganoxie will be at first base.
Adam North, a sophomore from SM South, gets the edge over Kelly and injured freshman Jared Goodfellow of Broken Arrow, Okla., behind the plate. North saw action in 16 games last season. “A good catch and throw guy,” says Goldbeck.
Remington Kelly, a freshman outfielder from Carrollton, Tex., will likely handle the designated hitting duties while freshman Julius King of Antioch, Tenn., heads the outfield backups along with Jacob Jackson of Blue Springs South and Connor White of Coppell, Tex.
After a single game Friday and doubleheaders Saturday and Sunday in Texas, the Blue Devils return home for twin bills with Northeast Nebraska Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 24-25.
Nine weeks of Jayhawk Conference play begins Thursday, March 1, when KCKCC hosts Coffeyville. Each conference team plays home-and-home doubleheaders on Thursdays and Saturdays through April 1 against Cowley, the defending champion and conference favorite.
Bill Sharp again heads the staff of assistant coaches along with former Blue Devils Dean Long, Tanner Foerschler and Ryne McDonald.