CHANUTE — As numbing as it was for Barton Community College in an 8-7 loss to Johnson County earlier in the day, it in no way compared to the Cougars’ second game on Saturday evening.
In an elimination game of the National Junior College Athletics Association Region VI Super Regional at Hudson Field, Pratt, trailing 5-3, rallied with three runs in the bottom of the ninth to oust Barton 6-5.
Pratt’s Ethan Elrod hit a game-tying, two-run double off Barton submarine-style pitcher Kyle LeRoy and then D’Andre Wallace followed by stroking a two-base hit to left, driving in Elrod for the walk-off victory.
Pratt (23-35) advances to today’s second round while Barton closes its season at 37-21.
Behind the pitching of starting right-hander Keith Picht and hitting of Jordan Slade and Matt Slauter, the Cougars built a 5-0 lead after six innings, including scoring three runs in the second.
Pratt, which negated Picht’s shutout bid with a single run in the seventh, closed to 5-3 in the eighth after Aaron Beil’s two-run single off Barton reliever Ian Smith.
Picht pitched to the first two batters in the eighth, including hitting Elrod with a pitch before being lifted in favor of reliever Ian Smith.
“I wanted to go,” Picht said. “I wanted to be there for my team, but I guess I was just a little bit tired and after those two guys got on (in the eighth), they got me out and turned it over to the bullpen.
“Any game that knocks you out is going to be rough, no matter who it is. We had already beaten them three of four times (during Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference Western Division play) and it definitely hurts coming against a team in your own conference.”
The Cougars led 1-0 after the first, thanks to a lead-off double by Slade and an RBI groundout by Slauter.
Three runs in the second by BCC increased its lead to 4-0. Clayton Garland singled and later scored when Adam Geisick reached on an error for a 2-0 lead. Slade then doubled home Geisick, and Slauter singled in Slade for the four-run lead.
The Cougars increased the margin to 5-0 in the fifth after Ryan Busboom singled and later scored on Garland’s RBI base hit.
But the Beavers quietly started coming back as easy as 1-2-3 — one run in the seventh, two in the eighth and three in the ninth.
Slauter finished 3 for 4 — all singles — and drove in two runs. Slade was 2 for 4 and finished Saturday’s two games a collective 5 for 8 at the plate — two doubles, a triple, a homer and a single.
“It’s tough to lose two, but this team is like a family and I couldn’t ask to play with a better group of guys,” Slade said. “It’s been a fun two years and it’s been a privilege to play with them.
“I struggled early in the year, just coming back from being hurt (shoulder surgery and hand in a cast). My teammates picked me up all year and it was my turn to give them a little help. I’d rather go 0 for 4 all day and win those two games than be in the zone, but you can’t win them all, I guess.”
NATIONAL JUNIOR COLLEGE
Region VI Baseball
Pratt 6, Barton 5
123 456 789 R H E
Barton 130 010 000 — 5 11 3
Pratt 000 000 123 — 6 13 2
Keith Picht, Ian Smith (8), Kyle LeRoy & Mitch Slauter; Blake McMullen, Richard Mais (5), Junior Mustain & Todd Reller. W — Mustain. L — LeRoy. 2B — Barton (Jordan Slade 2); Pratt (Aaron Beil, Ethan Elrod, D’Andre Wallace).