Freshman Griffin Everitt hit the biggest home run of his young collegiate baseball career Saturday, a game-winning blast in the bottom of the 11th inning that gave Kansas City Kansas Community College a walk-off 6-5 win and a sweep of Neosho County. The Blue Devils rode freshman Oswaldo Mendez' 4-hit pitching gem to a 9-1 win in the 7-inning opener.
The sweep improved the Blue Devils' record in Jayhawk Conference play to 17-3 and set up the biggest four-game series of the season to date. Johnson County and Cowley County share the conference lead at 14-2 with JCCC coming to KCKCC Thursday at 1 p.m. At Rockhurst JV Monday at 5 p.m., the Blue Devils then wrap up conference play with a four-game set with Cowley the following week and Coffeyville April 25-27.
"A no doubter; a great way to end an exciting series," said KCKCC Coach Matt Goldbeck of Everitt's game-winning shot to left-center to win the 6-5 nightcap. It was the second homer of the season and third hit of the game for Everitt, a catcher from Lincoln, Neb., and ended what had been a frustrating final four innings for the Blue Devils. Neosho tied the game with three unearned runs in the eighth and the Blue Devils left runners in scoring position in the 7th, 9th and 10th innings before Everitt's blast.
The home run rewarded freshman Gaby Ramos with his third win in a standout relief performance. In 3 1/3 innings of relief, Ramos (3-2) retired 10 of the final 11 hitters he faced, seven on strikeouts in his longest stint of the season. "Gaby was really good," said Goldback.
KCKCC manufactured a run in the second inning. Everitt singled, took second on Bednar's sacrifice, third on a passed ball and scored on Harrison;s squeeze bunt that went for a hit. Acosta made it 2-0 in the fifth with a home run and the Blue Devils opened a 5-0 lead with three runs in the sixth. Hartter had the big blow, a two-run single after a single by Henry, walk and Bednar's bunt single.
Victor Gotay blanked the Panthers on four hits through six innings, striking out nine and walking three but Neosho scored twice on three hits off Jose Amaro in the seventh. Matt Fred allowed one hit and walked one in the eighth but a pair of errors enabled Neosho to pull even 5-5 before Ramos' big finish.
Home runs by Santiago, Henry and Jose Sosa and two early run-scoring doubles by Acosta highlighted a 13-hit KCKCC attack in support of Mendez' pitching jewel in the 9-1 opener. Other than a monster home run off a tree in left field by Neosho's Brant Scrivner in the third inning, Mendez (5-1) was in complete command. No other runner got past first base as he allowed four hits, walked two and fanned six.
Acosta provided KCKCC with the early lead, doubling in Harrison for a 1-0 lead in the second and then driving in two more runs with his second double in the third. Santiago started the inning with a solo home run and Sosa singled and Henry doubled to set up Acosta's hit. The Blue Devils added three more runs in the fourth on just two hits, a single by Sosa and Henry's second double and then got long home runs from Sosa and Henry in the sixth. It was the fourth for each.
"Our starters were outstanding all weekend, shutting down a good team," said Goldbeck. "Victor Gotay pitched great. It's tough taking a pitcher out when he hasn't allowed a run but we have to look at protecting their arms with around 100 pitches and we have good relief guys. It was the second time in two days I had to pry the ball away from a starter. Carlos Soto (5-1) gave up one run Friday and really wanted to stay in the game. Our starters are all super competitive and they want to finish what they start."