The Brent Biggs era is underway.
For the first time in 31 years a new face was in charge of the Barton Community College baseball team. And for the first time in 905 wins and 1535 games it was someone other long-time coach Mike Warren getting a win as coach.
Saturday afternoon in the season-opener for the 2015 Barton baseball team it was Coach Biggs getting the win as the Cougars gave their new coach a victory in his initial outing replacing Coach Warren who retired this past spring.
The Cougars traveled to Carl Albert State College for a 3-game series, opening play with a 3-1 win Saturday before dropping an 8-2 decision in the nightcap. Sunday the Cougars wrapped up series with a 3-2 win in 10 innings.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to coach the team I grew up watching, the team I played for, and the school I feel so strongly about,” Coach Biggs said of earning his first win as coach for the Cougars. “Overall I felt like it was a pretty good start to the 2015 season. Anytime you can go south early in the season and win a series you have to feel good about it.”
Barton, and Coach Biggs, are now 2-1. The Cougars will have their home-opener this weekend when Western Nebraska comes to Lawson-Biggs Field for a 4-game series. The two will play twinbills Saturday and Sunday at 1 pm.
In the series opener the Cougars got a great pitching effort from starter Jordan Plank and three relievers. Plank allowed one run on two hits in his four innings of work. Jackson Rose, Shane Adams, and Alex Evans closed the door with three hitless innings in the seven inning contest.
Barton put a pair of runs on the board in the second inning to grab the lead. Bryce Minor opened the inning with a leadoff single then Tyler Jennings was hit by a pitch. A groundout moved the runners up and a sacrifice fly by Lance White scored Minor for the 1-0 lead. Dylan Kuhn scored Jennings with a 2-out single to make it 2-0.
Jennings doubled and scored in the top of the seventh on White’s second RBI for some insurance in the win.
“We have talked all fall and winter about pitching and defense and our pitchers really stepped up this weekend.” Coach Biggs said. “We were able to get 11 different pitchers on the mound this weekend and they made some big pitches in tough situations.”
The Cougars weren’t as efficient in the second game Saturday as Carl Albert scored four in second then put the game away with four in the sixth.
Barton chipped away at that 4-run deficit with single runs in the fifth and sixth of the seven-inning game to cut it to 4-2.
Trevor Turner doubled and score on a Grant Watkins single in the fifth. Turner doubled again the sixth to score Evan McDonald and give Barton hope for the final inning trailing just 4-2.
But that wasn’t to be as the Vikings score four in the bottom of the sixth to extend the lead to the 8-2 final.
Sunday saw a pitching duel between the two clubs in the nine inning series finale. Barton didn’t lead in the game until extra innings in the 3-2 10-inning win.
Barton fell behind 2-1 as Carl Albert got to Barton starter Cody Brewer with a 2-out single to take a 1-0 lead.
The Cougars evened the game at 1-all in the fifth as McDonald and Jacob Richardson put together back-to-back singles and McDonald scored on a Turner ground out.
The Vikings regained the lead an inning later and Barton tied it in the eighth. Seth Troll played the role of hero with a 2-out triple to score Jennings who had walked in the prior at bat.
Mitch Malherbe worked around a leadoff double with a pair of strikeouts in the bottom of the eight and a pair of base runners in the ninth to send the game to extra innings.
In the 10th Turner drew a one-out hit batsman then stole second. He scored on a throwing error for the lead.
Evans again came in to shut the door with second save in two days. The sophomore allowed just one base runner in the 10th. Malherbe picked up the win in his Barton debut.
“The weekend is a good starting point for our team,” Coach Biggs said. “I feel like, overall, we didn’t play real well defensively and offensively and still found a way to win two close games. It says a lot about the type of kids we have.”
The forecast for the weekend is decent for the Cougars as they prepare to open the home portion of the season. Temperatures aren’t slated for the 70’s as they have been but it should hover around a high of 50 both days with low chances of rain. Not terrible for mid-February in Kansas.