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)