BY JIM MISUNAS
The gusty south wind was a hitter's dream and a pitcher's nightmare.
Great Bend Bat Cat leadoff hitter Alex Rodgers drilled back-to-back homers to spark a four home run afternoon in a Sunday's 10-4 Sunflower Collegiate :League victory over the Sunflower Seeds. A southerly wind gusted past 30 mph to left field at Al Burns Field.
Rodgers launched a pair of fastballs off starter Connor Gibson for his first two-homer day since March 2 against Kansas Wesleyan. Rodgers batted .421 with six homers for Barton Community College this spring.
"I want to keep my bat level, hit it hard and put the ball in play," Rodgers said. "If you keep the same approach, good things will happen."
Bat Cat starter Adrian Talavera was brilliant with nine strikeouts in 51/3 innings. Relievers Brayden Smith and Ryan Peters combined for 22/3 shutout innings. The Bat Cats pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts.
New Mexico Military pitcher Talavera showcased a 90 mph fastball with a sharp-breaking slider. Talavera focused on hitting his spots.
"I kept the ball down in the zone, and hit the inside and outside corners really well," he said. "I'd rate today's game solid. This is my best outing so far in Great Bend. But there's always room for improvement."
The Bat Cats (9-6, 8-4 Sunflower) swept the four-game series and entertain the Cheney Diamond Dawgs (15-0, 12-0 Sunflower) at home Tuesday and Wednesday. The Seattle Studs edged Cheney 5-4 for the 2019 NBC World Series title.
"What got us going was our win Wednesday against Mulvane," said Bat Cats coach Roger Ward. "We showed life and energy. It was a tough game. There's no doubt Cheney is better this year. We have a big series ahead of us. Hopefully, we can come out and enjoy a good night."
Bat Cat Chandler Bloomer set an aggressive tone with a two-run homer that scored Rodgers in the first inning. Jake Baker doubled and scored on an error. Rodgers' second-inning homer scored Chance Ragsdale for a 5-0 lead.
Rodgers and Collin Meinert drilled back-to-back fourth-inning homers for a 7-2 lead. Baker scored on Marty Carnahan's seventh-inning single. Seth Kenagy doubled and scored on an error and Rodgers scored on Chandler Bloomer's eighth-inning groundout.
An error by Bat Cat third baseman Chance Ragsdale allowed Seeds Cale Blasi and Caleb Farmer to score a pair of third-inning unearned runs. Dylan Phillips scored on Koby Burnett's sixth-inning groundout. Cooper Elliot's double scored Jack Wagner in the ninth inning.
BAT CATS 10, SEEDS 4
Seeds 002 001 001 – 4 7 2
Bat Cats 320 200 12x – 10 10 1
Gibson, Birch (6) and Doty. Talavera, Smith (6), Peters (8), Murray (9) and Touchet. W–Talavera. L–Gibson. 2B–BC–Baker; SS–Elliot, Tarrant; HR–BC–Rodgers 2, Bloomer, Meinert.
SUNFLOWER COLLEGIATE LEAGUE
Cheney Diamond Dawgs 12-0 15-0
Hutchinson Monarchs 6-1 8-1
Rose Hill Sluggers 6-2 6-2
Great Bend Bat Cats 8-4 9-6
Newton Rebels 4-7 5-7
Derby Twins 4-8 4-8
Mulvane Patriots 4-8 4-8
Haysville Aviators 2-6 4-9
Sunflower Seeds 1-11 1-11
6-25–Bat Cats 23, Cheney Seeds 8; Cheney 9, Mulvane 0; Derby 11, Newton 1; Hutchinson 12, Haysville 3
6-26–Bat Cats 5, Seeds 4; Cheney 14, Mulvane 0; Derby 10, Newton 9; Hutchinson 8, Haysville 7
6-27–Bat Cats 7, Seeds 5; Cheney 15, Mulvane 4; Newton 9, Derby 7; Haysville 2, Hutchinson 1
6-28–Bat Cats 10, Seeds 4; Cheney 15, Mulvane 9; Derby 11, Newton 7; Hutchinson 13, Haysville 3
6-29–Newton at Hutchinson
6-30–Cheney at Bats Cats; Derby vs. Haysville; Hutchinson at Rose Hill; Mulvane at Seeds; Wichita Academy vs. Newton
7-1–Cheney at Bat Cats; Hutchinson at Rose Hill; Mulvane at Seeds; Grays at Newton