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.