BY JIM MISUNAS
Derby Twins pitcher Conner Dougal faced the ultimate challenge – bases loaded with red-hot Great Bend Bat Cat Armani Raygoza up to the plate.
The sweet-swinging lefty Raygoza (Rio Grande Valley) emptied the bases with a grand slam to left field to ignite a 7-4 victory in a battle for first place in the Sunflower Collegiate League. Nick Parton and Brady Kreutzer walked, and Robby Bolin delivered the key play by reaching safely on a perfect bunt.
The Bat Cats (8-2) lead the Kansas Cannons (7-2) and Derby (6-4) for first place.
Bat Cats starter Nolan Bushko (NE Texas) threw five solid innings. Great Bend native Chayse Gruber struck out the side and threw three innings. Kevin Schoneboom threw the ninth inning.
Bat Cat Jake Tatom doubled twice and scored on Jace Wentling’s sixth-inning sacrifice fly for a 5-1 lead. Tatom drove home Connor Chavez with a sacrifice fly and Raygoza scored on a wild pitch for a 7-1 lead.
Second baseman Chavez was a defensive wizard. He turned a fifth-inning double play with shortstop Tatom. Chavez preserved a 7-4 lead with a leaping catch of a groundball and a toss to Tatom for an inning-ending forceout.
Catcher Wentling threw out Kade Snodgrass on a first-inning steal. Shortstop Tatom threw out Christian Miranda at third base on a heads-up play.
Derby Twins 100 000 300 -- 4 9 1
GB Bat Cats 004 001 20x – 7 9 2
Dougal, Stephens (7) and Horn. Bushko, Gruber (6), Schoneboom (9) and Wentling. W—Bushko, 1-0. L—Dougal. 2B—GB—Tatom 2. HR—GB—Raygoza (4).
Great Bend Bat Cats 8-2
Kansas Cannons 7-2
Derby Twins 6-4
Hutchinson Monarchs 3-4
Haysville Aviators 3-4
Newton Rebels 2-5
Kingman Islanders 1-9
6-15—Twins 10, Bat Cats 3; Islanders 9, Rebels 3; Aviators 4, Monarchs 1
6-16—Bat Cats 7, Twins 4; Rebels 12, Islanders 7; Monarchs 5, Aviators 2; Cannons at Larks
6-17—Bat Cats at Twins; Islanders at Rebels; Aviators at Monarchs
6-19—Islanders at Bat Cats; Monarchs at Cannons; Aviators at Rebels; Twins at Heat