A couple weeks ago the Barton baseball team was coming off a tough road trip to Oklahoma. The Cougars had just been swept by Rose State. Barton stood at 2-5 on the season. There was not a lot joy running through the team.
Three weeks later things couldn’t have made more of a 180 degree turn.
Barton has won 13 straight since that time and after a sweep of Butler this past weekend at Lawson-Biggs Field, the Cougars are alone at the top of the Jayhawk West standings.
Along the way have been some heart-stopping comebacks that have not only prompted several to start calling them the Cardiac Cougars but has instilled a sense among the team they are never out of a game.
This past weekend was very evident of that. The Cougars won a pair games with the Grizzlies in their final at bats.
Barton won 4-3 on its last at bat and 6-5 in extra innings the opening day. The Cougars then won 5-0 and 14-10 Sunday to complete its second sweep just two series into West play.
Barton is now 8-0 in the Jayhawk and 16-5 overall. For Butler is was the first conference series and now stands at 0-4 and 10-11.
Hutchinson is 5-1 with two more games to play against Seward County from the weekend after a postponement Sunday. Everyone else has at least three losses.
Saturday was not a day for the faint of heart. The Cougars and Grizzlies hooked up in a tight dual. Barton took a 2-0 lead in the second inning when Alan Clark came through with a 2-out single to score Ryan McClure and Corrigan Bartlett.
Butler took a 3-2 lead in the fifth with a pair of runs and kept that lead until the 7th and final inning.
Crank up the Cardiac Cougars. Trey Pittman drew a 1-out walk followed by a double from Mason Hightower to score pinch-runner Derek Johnson and tie the game at 3-all. One batter later Drake Bliss ended the game with a double to left that scored Hightower.
Taylor Langston earned the win, pitching two scoreless innings in relief. Garrett Rogers threw five strong innings, allowed just three hits and one earned run in the start.
Game two was equally exciting Saturday.
The teams traded the lead early as Butler scored twice in the first before Barton countered with three in the bottom of the inning.
Butler took a 4-3 after three innings and led 5-4 heading into the bottom of the ninth. But the Cougars were not fazed. Hightower got Barton started with a 1-out single. Clark followed with a double that scored Johnson, who was again pinch running. Barton stranded Clark on third to end the inning.
Two innings later, Barton won the game without a hit. Pittman drew a walk and pinch runner Matthew Baca advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Baca then scored on a wild pitch and error by the Grizzlies to cap another walk-off win.
Sunday provided less drama but the end result of two wins was the same.
The Cougars took a 3-0 lead in the second as the first four batters reached base with three scoring. Barton would score two more times on wild pitches later in the game.
Jackson Rose was tossed a gem for the Cougars, allowing just two hits, two walks and recording nine strikeouts for the win. Rose is now 2-0 on the year.
In the series finale, Barton scored seven times in the fifth to take an 11-6 lead then held off Butler for the win.
Baca had a big game, going 4-for-5 at the plate with three RBI and two runs scored. Dayton Pomeroy added two doubles and a triple to drive in three runs as well.
The Cougars threw five pitchers at Butler in the series finale with Brant Millerborg picking up the win in relief.
Barton will be idle from West play for a couple weeks. The Cougars will have six home games in the meantime with North Iowa Area coming to Lawson-Biggs Field Thursday and Longview (Mo) visiting over the weekend. All doubleheaders will start at 1 p.m.