By ALAN HOSKINS
KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- Kansas City Kansas Community College wiped out any doubts that the Blue Devils’ sweep at Cowley County last Thursday was a fluke by repeating the sweep on home turf Saturday.
“That’s the first time Cowley has ever lost all four games since the conference went to a four-game set,” said KCKCC Coach Steve Burleson, whose Blue Devils posted 6-5 and 11-1 wins over a Cowley team that was unbeaten at 12-0 and tied for the league lead going into the series. And now the Blue Devils have a chance to do it again against another No. 1 team.
Coffeyville, the Jayhawk Conference leader at 15-1, comes to KCKCC Thursday for a doubleheader at 1 and 3:30 p.m. before the Blue Devils go to Coffeyville Saturday to complete the four-game series. Up ahead, however, is a Monday home twin bill with William Jewell’s JV at 2 p.m.
KCKCC won the Cowley opener 6-5 on Mitch Glessner’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh after Cowley had tied the game with five runs in the top of the inning. Garrett McKinzie led off the winning rally with a double and Christian Arnold’s bunt single moved pinchrunner Easton Edmond to third. A ground ball advanced Arnold to second and Danny Kralicek was intentionally walked to load the bases and set up Glessner’s fly ball to center on a 1-2 pitch.
E.J. Merlo pitched shutout ball over the first six innings, leaving runners stranded in five of the six innings before the Tigers broke through in the seventh, scoring five times on five hits, a walk, hit batsman and error. Jonathan May got the win in relief although giving up one run on two hits.
KCKCC jumped in front 4-0 in the third. After a leadoff double by Glessner, error and an intentional walk loaded the bases with one out, Sam Baxter’s bunt single scored one run, McKinzie singled in two more and Daniel LaMunyon singled in Baxter. The Blue Devils tacked on another run in the fourth on a walk, sacrifice and Lucas Norton’s two-out single.
The Blue Devils wasted no time on jumping on Cowley’s Storm Rynard in the second game in a duel with Cole Frakes that matched Raymore-Peculiar graduates. “They started a guy who throws 94 miles per hour and we started a guy who throws 74 and we got a complete game 11-1 win,” said Burleson.
After a double by Norton and a walk, the Blue Devils kayoed Rynard by scoring four times with two out in the first. A wild pitch scored one run, Eric Hinostroza singled in two and Glessner one.
KCKCC added three more runs in the third on hits by Hinostroza and Norton and run-scoring bunts by Zane Mapes and Tanner Foerschler and then wrapped it up with four runs in the fifth on hits by Foerschler, Norton, McKinzie and LaMunyon and a double by Arnold.
“Luke Norton continues to lead the way and it’s good to see McKinzie and Arnold continue to swing the bat,” said Burleson. “One thing that should be noted. The bench really did a great job in keeping us fired up in a hostile environment down there and it carried over Saturday. Winning four was certainly encouraging but now the question is what do we do from here?”