CONCORDIA — One. That is the magic number for the Barton baseball and a Jayhawk West title.
Mathematically, that number may be two, but in all actuality, one win is all that now separates the Cougars and a West title after Barton went to Concordia and swept Cloud County Friday afternoon.
Barton won its staggering seventh straight West series by a 3-1 count after sweeping the Thunderbirds Friday in a doubleheader moved up one day to beat the weather. Barton won the first game 9-3 and rolled to a 13-2 win in the nightcap. That, coupled with the split Thusday in Great Bend, gave Barton another 3-1 series win.
The 17th ranked Cougars are now 21-7 in the West and 38-10. Cloud dropped to fifth in the West at 15-13 and 25-21.
The only team that can catch the Cougars is Butler. The Grizzlies are 18-10 in the West. Those two teams play their 4-game series in the final weekend of the regular season. That will get started Thursday in El Dorado with two games and conclude Saturday in Great Bend with two more.
The Cougars need to win just one of those four games to secure its first West title since 1994.
Barton made that possible with two big wins in Concordia.
In the opener, the Cougars put up back-to-back 4-run innings in the fourth and fifth to pick up the win.
Barton trailed 3-1 into the top of the fourth. The Cougars only run to that point was the third home run of the year for Chandler Kelley.
But in the fourth, all that changed. It didn’t look like a big inning was in the making as two of the first three were retired. With two on and two outs, Dawson Pomeroy evened the game at 3-all with a single that scored Brett Bonar and Brett Erickson.
Barton would take the lead on a single by Paul Claassen and an error that allowed Pomeroy to scored. Claassen would eventually score on a balk and Barton had a 5-3 lead.
That lead grew to six in the fifth inning. Much like the previous inning, two of the first three batters were retired before the rally took place. And, like the previous inning, Pomeroy drove in a pair on a single that scored Erickson and Brady Michel to make it a 9-3 game as Barton cruised to the win.
Zach Curry went six innings on the mound to improve to 5-0 on the season.
In the second game, Barton took command with a 5-run third inning then continued to pile on runs, ending the game early by the run-rule after seven.
Claassen started the third with a leadoff home run followed by another home run from Harrison Denk. Bonar provided the big blow in the inning when he jacked a 3-run shot to left three batters later. It was his 10th on the season, one off the team lead of 11 by Kaden Fowler.
A 3-run fourth gave Barton an 8-1 lead and the Thunderbirds never challenged after that.
Michel and Carson Engroff each had three hits in the win. Michel drove in a pair and Engroff scored three times.
Nolan Riley earned the win, going six innings to improve to 2-0.
Now the focus turns to Butler and the Cougars first shot at the West title in 24 years. The series will get started Thursday in El Dorado at 1 pm. The series will conclude in Great Bend Saturday, also at 1 pm.
17 Barton 9, Cloud 3
Barton 001 440 0 – 9 8 1
Cloud 210 000 0 – 3 9 2
Curry, Wulfkuhle (7) and Bonar; Seidel, Spicer (5), Dauer (6) and DeSantis. W – Curry (5-0). L – Seidel (3-2). 2B – Bondarhcuk, Langley, DeSantis 2, Scott, Cloud. 3B – Simons, Cloud. HR – Kelley (3), Barton.
17 Barton 13, Cloud 2
Barton 005 313 1 – 13 13 1
Cloud 100 100 0 – 2 6 5
Riley, Howe (7) and Bonar; Koehler, Peters (3), Greenwood (4), Uhling (5), Proctor (6), Brown (7) and Catlett, Wallace (7). W – Riley (2-0). L – Koehler (2-4). 2B – Michel, Barton; Schmidt, Cloud. HR – Denk (2), Bonar (10), Claassen (2), Barton.