Coach Brent Biggs knew if his Barton baseball team was going to make it past the opening weekend of the Region VI tournament, his team was going to have to limit its mistakes and take advantage of Kansas City Kansas’ mistakes.
It turned out to be just the opposite.
The results was a 2-game sweep by KCK to open the post season, ending Barton’s season with a 29-27 record. KCK, the third seed of the Jayhawk East, moves into the 8-team double-elimination bracket to determine the Region VI champion.
KCK won the opener 13-0 then wrapped up the series with a 7-3 win Saturday in Kansas City.
“We didn’t get off to a good start at KCK and struggled to find any momentum,” Coach Biggs said. “KCK took advantage of every mistake we made and ultimately that was the difference in the series.”
The East showed its dominance over the weekend, taking six of eight playoff series. KCK (41-18) will battle Hutchinson (38-18) Friday. Hutch and Garden City (43-15) are the only West teams left.
It didn’t take KCK long to establish the momentum. The Blue Devils scored six times in the bottom of the first in the opener to take a 6-0 lead. It grew to 8-0 after the second inning and 11-0 after four.
The game ended on a run-rule after seven innings.
Barton managed just two hits in the loss – a double by Corrigan Bartlett and a single by Cole Henley. KCK, meanwhile, bashed out 15 hits – six of them for extra bases – against three different Cougar pitchers.
Barton competed in the second game. The Cougars had a 3-2 lead until a 4-run sixth inning by KCK changed the tide.
Barton took a 1-0 lead after Drake Bliss was hit by a pitch to start the game, moved to second on a ground out, to third on a passed ball and scored on a pick-off play at first.
KCK tied in the bottom of the third and took the lead in the fourth.
Trailing 2-1, the Cougars evened the game in the fifth. Barton again manufactured the run. Cole Henley singled to lead off the inning, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a ground out.
Barton recaptured the lead in the top of the sixth when Ryan McClure connected for a 2-out triple and scored on a single by Dayton Pomeroy.
The bottom of the sixth started off good enough for Barton as the first two batters were retired. But things fell apart at that point. Six straight Blue Devils followed by reaching base and when it was done, KCK had four runs and a 6-3 lead.
Barton would put just one more runner on base the rest of the way as its season came to an end.
“I’m proud of the way our team competed throughout the season,” Coach Biggs said. “It is never easy going into a season with only five returners but our guys worked hard every day and continued to get better each and every day.
“The future looks bright with the returning starters we will have for next season. All of our sophomores will go on to play college baseball at the next level.”
Biggs added that Dayton Pomeroy has already signed to play at Fort Hays State next season and the rest of the sophomores should be making their decisions in the next couple of weeks.