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World Series Bound

Barton wins Region VI title; headed to NJCAA World Series

POSTED May 15, 2018 7:57 p.m.

WICHITA – Make no mistake. The 2018 season will go down as the best in the history of Barton baseball.
The Cougars put the exclamation point on that statement Tuesday afternoon by capturing their first Region VI title since 1979 and earning the school’s first-ever trip to the NJCAA World Series.
Barton had to close out a win over Cowley carried over from Monday as the first order of business on Tuesday, which the Cougars did, 16-7.
Then, Barton had to beat the 8th ranked team in the nation a second time.
Mission accomplished.The No. 19 Cougars defeated the Tigers, 9-3, later in the day to secure the Region VI Championship.
“The last two days was the most fun I’ve ever had on a baseball field,” Coach Brent Biggs said following the win.
“This group stuck together. We won the (Jayhawk) West for the first time since 1994, set a school record for wins and now it’s on to Grand Junction.”
Grand Junction, Colo. is the site of the NJCAA World Series. That will run from May 26- June 2.
After combining for 23 runs in the first game of the day, both teams had their aces ready to roll in the second title game. It showed.
On the mound for the Cougars was sophomore standout Josh Hendrickson. The 6-4 lefty showed why he is regarded as one of the best pitchers in the region.
Hendrickson mixed his off speed stuff and his fastball to keep Cowley off balance most of the afternoon. He pitched into the eighth inning on three days rest before running into any significant trouble.
That pitching effort, along with Cougars’ season-long ability to have an answer for seemingly every run their opponent puts on the board, was the difference in the finale.
The final one of those answers came in the top of the ninth inning when the Cougars slammed the door on the Region VI title.
The final nail came when Carson Engroff turned on a 92 mph fastball and put it over the left field fence for a 3-run homer and a 9-3 lead as Barton plated five runs in its last at bat after Cowley trimmed the lead to 4-3 in the bottom of the eighth.
When closer Dawson Pomeroy got Dalton Dinkel to hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game, the celebration was on for the Cougars.
“It’s tough to beat that team twice,” Coach Biggs said of getting two wins over the 8th ranked Tigers. “But our guys were up to the challenge. We were loose and having a lot fun out there. It was fun to watch and be a part of it.”
It was, in fact, the first time since early February the Tigers, 45-11, had been beaten in back-to-back games. It was the first time it happened on the same day.
Engroff, the hitting star in the afternoon finishing the game with five RBI, got the Cougars on the board in the third with a double to score Jared Maneth and Harrison Denk. Brett Bonar made it 3-0 with back-to-back doubles down the right field line to score Engroff.
Cowley got the lead to 3-1 in the sixth as the Tigers collected three hits in the inning. But, the Cougars immediately responded. This time it was a Paul Claassen home run in the top of the seventh to extend that lead back three at 4-1.
The game got interesting in the bottom of the eighth. Hendrickson got in some trouble with two runners on and just one out. He got the second out but couldn’t get the third. Instead, a double down the right field line by Kea’von Edward brought home Devin Beard and Cross Factor to make it a 4-3.
“He’s a competitor,” Coach Biggs said of Hendrickson, who improved to 11-2. That is the most wins in a season at Barton. “He’s an ace. We tried to take him out a couple times before we finally did, but he wouldn’t let us. He wanted the baseball.”
Pomeroy came in to record the final out of the inning, which he did by inducing a grounder to second, putting the Cougars just three outs from the Region VI title.
Clinging to that 1-run lead, the Cougars once again answered right back. Tim Bell, hitting for the first time after entering the game when Pomeroy took over on the mound, delivered a 2-run single to center to score Pomeroy and Kaden Fowler. That set the stage for Engroff’s final blast to put the Cougars on the cusp on victory.
Pomeroy picked up his fifth save by getting the Cougars out of the eighth inning jam. Pomeroy faced the minimum four batters to record the final four outs. Hendrickson gave up just two earned runs in his 7.2 innings of work. Cowley starter Cole Lawson threw a great game as well, pitching into the ninth inning.
In the resumption of the first championship game, Barton picked right up where it left off the night before after lightning in the area stopped the game.
The Cougars put up four runs in the top of the sixth inning to turn a 7-3 lead into an 11-3 lead. Three straight hits drove in runs in the inning. Bonar singled in Engroff, Brady Michel doubled in Bonar and Brett Erickson tripled in Michel to give Barton the 8-run lead.
Cowley made things interesting in the seventh, scoring three runs – two unearned after a 2-out error by the Cougars – to trim the lead to 12-7. It could have been worse as Cowley had the bases loaded when Nolan Riley came in and struck out Cowley’s leading hitter and one of the top hitters in the region, Alex Peterson, to end the inning and the threat.
Barton took any suspense out of the game with three more runs in the top of the ninth for the 16-7 win.
Zach Curry got the win, tossing three innings in relief, allowing only two walks and no runs. Nolan Riley threw well to finish the game, tossing 2.1 innings to close it out.
After some time to soak in the Region VI title and do some celebrating, the Cougars will turn their focus to the NJCAA World Series.
“This program has never been to Grand Junction and it’s about time,” Coach Biggs said. “This program has had some great players and some great teams. I’m just happy to take us that final leg to Grand Junction. Coach (Mike) Warren laid a solid foundation and this team was able to take us that next step. It’s pretty awesome. Pretty awesome.”

Championship Game 2
2 Barton 9, 1 Cowley 3
Barton 003 000 105 – 9 11 2
Cowley 000 001 020 – 3 10 1
Hendrickson, Pomeroy (8) and Bonar; Larson, Westerhoff (9), Jordan (9) and Dinkel. W – Hendrickson (11-2). L – Larson (6-2). S – Pomeroy (5). 2B – Engroff, Bonar, Claassen, Michel, Barton; Edwards, Cowley. HR – Claassen (3), Engroff (4), Barton.

Championship Game 1
2 Barton 16, 1 Cowley 7
Barton 040 304 113 – 16 17 1
Cowley 300 001 300 – 7 7 3
Taylor, Curry (1), Smith (4), Howe (5), Wulfkuhle (6), Lemmons (6), McClure (7), Riley (7) and Bonar; Hadlock, Minor (2), Hartley (6), Roach (6), Swanson (7), Curtuis (7), White (8) and Dinkel, Garrett (8). W – Curry (7-0). L – Hadlock (4-1). 2B – Michel, Barton; Factor, Edwards, Cowley. 3B – Erickson, Denk, Barton. HR – Bonar (11), Barton.

Region VI Double-elimination
Friday, May 11
G1 – 14 Seward 10, 6 Colby 0
G2 – 2 Barton 8, 7 Johnson 0
G3 – 1 Cowley 6, 8 Hutch 1
G4 – 13 KCK 14, 5 Neosho 6

Saturday, May 12
G5 – 7 Johnson 8, 6 Colby 5 Colby eliminated
G6 – 8 Hutch 20, 5 Neosho 3 Neosho eliminated
G7 – 2 Barton 7, 14 Seward 6
G8 – 1 Cowley 12, 13 KCK 4

Sunday, May 13
G9 – 8 Hutch 12, 14 Seward 8 Seward eliminated
G10 – 7 Johnson 10, 13 KCK 6 KCK eliminated
G11 – 1 Cowley 6, 2 Barton 5
G12 – 8 Hutch 12, 7 Johnson 11 Johnson eliminated

Monday, May 14
G13 – 2 Barton 8, 8 Hutch 0 Hutch eliminated

Tuesday, May 15
G14 – 2 Barton 16, 1 Cowley 7
G15 – 2 Barton 9, 1 Cowley 3 Cowley eliminated
Barton (47-13) wins Region VI Championship and advances to NJCAA World Series

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