BLUE DRAGONS SCORE CRUCIAL JAYHAWK WEST SWEEP OVER COUGARS
Sophomore Kyle Simonds tied a school record for one win and the Hutchinson Community College baseball team brought out the power to come from behind late in Game 2 and earn a much-needed Jayhawk West doubleheader sweep of Barton on Friday at Hobart-Detter Field.
Simonds tied the best start in program history by a starting pitcher in authoring his seventh complete game of the season to lead the No. 19 Blue Dragons to a 6-2 victory in the four-game series opener on Friday. The Blue Dragons then used a season-high four home runs - two in a three-run eighth-inning rally - to come from behind and gain an 8-6 victory for their sixth victory in a row and 12th doubleheader sweep of the season.
The conference-leading Blue Dragons (35-13 overall) are now 19-7 in the Jayhawk West. They maintain their two-game lead over Garden City - HCC has four games in hand and a series win over the Broncbusters - and now lead Butler by three games after the Grizzlies split with Pratt on Friday. Hutchinson and Butler have six Jayhawk West games remaining and Garden City has two.
In Game 1, Simonds moved his record to 10-0 in 10 starts this season, which tied Thad Weber for the best start by a Blue Dragon pitcher in program history. Weber was 10-0 in 2006.
Simonds also moved into a second-place tie on the HCC single-season wins list with Andrew Urban (2011), Weber, Brandon Johnson (2002), Craig Reed (2000), Jody Harris (1998) and Scott Stover (1997). Matt Rackers is the single-season record holder with 11 victories in 2000.
Simonds' seven complete games tie him for with four other pitchers for fifth place on that list.
Simonds found himself down 2-0 after giving up a pair of two-out RBI hits in the third inning. The Blue Dragons immediately rallied and gave him plenty of run support. After the rough third inning, Simonds settled down, allowing just three singles and retiring the final seven Cougars he faced.
The Blue Dragon sophomore right-hand allowed six hits and two earned runs while striking out six and walking none. Simonds now has an 11-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio for the season (77 strikeouts, seven walks).
After a three-run Barton uprising in the seventh inning of Game 2, the Blue Dragons trailed 6-5 after leading 5-2 through five innings.
Already with a two-run opposite-field home run to his credit in the game, left-fielder Matt Jones led off the bottom of the eighth and crushed a 2-2 pitch far over the wall in center field to tie the game at 6-6 off Barton reliever Jordan Plank. Jones, who took over the team home run lead with nine for the season, became the third Blue Dragon this season with a multi-home run game (Jake Schleppenbach has two).
After Jake Bublitz singled to chase Plank, sophomore first baseman Matt Sutliffe dropped his first sacrifice bunt of the season against Tanner Shoemaker to move Bublitz up to second. On the very next pitch, sophomore catcher Tucker Chadd picked an opportune time for his first Blue Dragon home run, pulverizing a Shoemaker pitch to left field to give Hutchinson an 8-6 lead.
Those were Hutchinson's third and season-high fourth homers of the game. HCC had three three-homer games previously this season.
GAME 1 RECAP
After Barton had taken a 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning, the Blue Dragon immediately responded.
Jake Ek led off and reached on Barton's third error of the game and moved to second on a wild pitch. Bennett Oliver then dropped a double which landed right on the rightfield foul line to score Ek and pull HCC within 2-1. Jordan Schroer then broke an 0-for-9 slump when he doubled over the head of the Barton leftfielder to plate Oliver and tie the game at 2-2. The rally continued when Jones slapped an RBI single to left for a 3-2 lead and Dakota Shadoan's sacrifice fly scored Jones with the fourth run of the inning and a 4-2 Blue Dragon lead.
Shadoan's bat continued to stay hot in the fifth with a two-out two-run single for his second and third RBIs of the game for a 6-2 Blue Dragon lead. Shadoan now has 12 RBIs in his last four offensive games.
Each team had just six hits in Game 1. No Blue Dragon had a multi-hit game. Oliver and Schroer had the only extra-base hits for HCC, both doubles.
The top two batters in the Cougar order, Jacob Richardson and Trevor Turner combined had four of Barton's six hits.
GAME 2 RECAP
All told in Game 2, there were six home runs combined, four by the Blue Dragons.
Bennett Oliver started the home run derby with a laser beam over the centerfield wall, a solo shot for his fourth of the season in the bottom of the first. Jones' first home run of the day came in the fifth, a two-run opposite-field clout to left that gave the Blue Dragons a 5-2 lead at that point.
Barton countered with a solo home run to center off the bat of Caleb Cherryholmes in the sixth. Then catcher Braxon Byfield launched a long two-run homer to left as part of a three-run seventh inning which gave Barton a 6-5 lead at the seventh-inning stretch.
That was the prelude to Hutchinson's power-laden eighth-inning rally, which was almost for naught after the Cougars loaded the bases in the eighth of a pair of walks and a bloop double.
HCC closer Dakota Shadoan came in at that point in the eighth inning in relief of Anderson Vargas and struck out Turner to end the threat. After getting the lead in the ninth, Shadoan struck out the side in the ninth to become the winning pitcher. Shadoan is 2-2 with seven saves this season.
Jones and Chadd led the Blue Dragons' nine-hit offensive attack. HCC was out-hit 10-9.
Jones went 2 for 4 with two home runs, three RBIs and two runs scored. Chadd was also 2 for 4 with a homer, a double two RBIs and a run. Ek, Oliver and Schroer all drove in runs for the Blue Dragons. Gave Wurth also had a double for the Blue Dragons.
The Blue Dragons and Cougars will complete their four-game set on Saturday with a doubleheader at 1 p.m. Between games, the Blue Dragons will celebrate Sophomore Day. Admission is free for the doubleheader.