Weather once again played havoc with a Jayhawk West baseball series. Instead of having all four games at home over the weekend, the Barton Community College baseball team was forced to play a pair in Hays Saturday before field conditions allowed them wrap up the series – and the regular season – at home Sunday.
Barton lost those two games at Larks’ Park in Hays Saturday against the Jayhawk West champion Seward County Saints but returned home to sweep the final two games Sunday at Lawson-Biggs Field.
The split kept Barton in sixth place in the West and will send them to Chanute to open the Region VI playoffs Saturday against Neosho County.
Barton lost 9-7 and 12-5 in a doubleheader at Lark’s Park in Hays due to unplayable field conditions at home Saturday then returned to Lawson-Biggs Sunday and swept the Saints 10-9 and 5-2. That ended a 14-game conference winning streak by Seward.
“Sweeping Seward on the final day of the season gives us some momentum heading into the playoffs,” Barton Coach Brent Biggs said. “We had some good efforts on the mound to go with some pretty good hitting.”
The Cougars built a big lead in the opener Sunday only to see it slip away. Barton scored six times in the second inning – thanks in part to a couple Saints’ errors. The big blow at the plate came on a bases-loaded clearing double by Lance White.
Barton made it 8-2 in the third before Seward put up seven runs in the fourth inning to grab a 9-8 lead on the Cougars.
Barton quickly tied the game in the bottom of the inning when Seth Troll singled, moved to second on a sac bunt by White, advanced to third on a single by Jacob Richardson and scored on a ground out by Dylan Kuhn.
The Cougars retook the lead in the fifth in a similar fashion. Trevor Turner started the inning with single, moved to third on a bad pick-off throw and scored on a White sac to the pitcher.
From there the Ryan McClure shut down the Saints. The freshman from Lyons came on in relief of Alex Evans during the big fourth inning by Seward and did not allow a single run. The right-hander gave up just three hits and a walk during his 3.1 innings of work striking out three and earning the win to improve to 2-0.
White drove in four in the win for the Cougars and had the only extra base hit. Austin Hall and Turner each had two hits and scored twice.
In the series finale the Cougars led most of the way. After Seward took a 1-0 lead in the second Barton responded with a run in the bottom of the inning. The Cougars took a 3-1 lead in the third. Turner singled in Richardson to make it 2-1 and scored to make it 3-1 when he stole third and came home on an errant throw.
Barton was clinging to a 3-2 lead when the Cougars added insurance runs in the sixth. Kuhn singled in White to make it 4-2 and Hall followed with a single to score Trevor Hughes for a 5-2 lead.
That was enough for starter Jordan Plank and closer Shane Adams. Plank went eight inning allowing just the two runs while Adams worked out of a bases loaded jam to close out the game. Plank improved to 7-2 with the win while Adams picked up his fifth save.
Things weren’t as pretty in Hays Saturday. Barton built a 5-1 lead in the first inning in the opener Saturday on the strength of a White grand slam home run. After the top of the fourth it was all gone as Seward tied it 5-all.
The Cougars again took a 7-5 lead with two in the bottom of the fourth but Seward scored twice in the sixth and two more in the seventh to win 9-7.
The second game Saturday saw Seward score in six of the nine innings on the way to the easy win. Barton pounded out 17 hits but left 15 runners on base. Evan McDonald, Grant Watkins, and Richardson each had three hits.
“I thought we swung the bats well all weekend, we just struggled to get timely hits on Saturday,” Coach Biggs said. “We faced two Division I, Big 12 arms and were able to bang out 24 hits on Saturday but left a small village on base.”
Barton will head to Chanute for two games Saturday and a third if needed on Sunday in the best 2-of-3 series. The winner advances to the 8-team Region VI double-elimination tournament win Wichita. Game times for both days are 1 p.m. on the Neosho campus.
Neosho finished third in the East with a 23-13 conference mark and a 40-14 overall record. The Panthers have won 9-of-10 heading into post season play.
“Neosho is a quality team and was ranked earlier in the season,” Coach Biggs said. “They are a lot like us in a sense that they have some quality wins and some bad losses this year. I think our two teams match up well together.”
Region VI Best 2-of-3 Series
Doubleheaders Saturday with if needed game Sunday
All games 9 innings
E8 Highland (13-36) at W1 Seward (32-22)
W5 Garden (29-25) at E4 Coffeyville (26-29)
E6 Fort Scott (20-23) at W3 Hutchinson (17-15)
W7 Pratt (21-30) at E2 Johnson (46-9)
W8 Colby (22-25) at E1 Cowley (47-3)
E5 KCK (28-23) at W4 Butler (26-27)
W6 Barton (26-25) at E3 Neosho (40-14)
E7 Labette (20-23) at W2 Dodge (35-17)