The McPherson College baseball team got a pair of solid starting pitching performances from Chad Gotto and Garrett Connor as the Bulldogs swept a doubleheader from Hastings College, 14-9 and 8-3, Wednesday afternoon at Bulldog Park.
Game 1 — McPherson 14, Hastings 9
The Broncos struck first, scoring one in the top of the first inning as leadoff hitter Tynan O'Brien reached on a walk and scored on an RBI double by Zack Petersen.
McPherson answered with two in the bottom of the frame as Lane Fleming drove in Trevor Haycock with an RBI double to right-center, then scored on a groundout by Evan Willow. The Bulldogs added four more runs in the fourth. Fleming led off the inning with a solo home run to right. Dylan Fontenot followed with a two-run triple before coming home himself on a pinch-hit RBI single by Desmond Grayson.
Hastings cut the deficit to three runs with two in the top of the fifth. O'Brien scored on a single through the left side of the infield by Bryce McMullen and Petersen came in to score when Dylan Fitzgerald drew a bases-loaded walk with two outs off McPherson reliever Josh Lewis. Lewis was able to get out of the jam without further damage by getting Grant Kraus to ground out to short to end the inning.
The Bulldogs matched the Broncos with two runs in the bottom half of the inning as pinch runner Hunter Dreiling scored from first when a Willow single to right field was not fielded cleanly. Willow, who moved to third on the bobble, came across on a groundout by Dominick Ramos. A wild pitch put McPherson runners at second and third with one out, but Hastings escaped by inducing a pair of fly-ball outs.
McPherson plated six in the sixth to extend the lead to 14-3. Trent Smith drove in two with a two-out single to right field. Fontenot then plated another when he reached second on a fly ball that never left the infield. The swirling winds caught hold of the pop-up, making it difficult for the Hastings infielders to judge. The ball landed untouched in the middle of the infield and Fontenot - running all the way - eased into an unattended second base. Mark Strebin added a two-run double down the left field line and then scored on a Jakob Shields RBI single to right before the Broncos were able to get the final out of the inning.
Hastings - aided by a pair of Bulldog fielding errors - rallied for six runs on five hits in the seventh. The final two runs came across when Ryan Schrad smacked a two-run home run to right field. O'Brien then reached on a two-out single to left, but was erased when Brandon Utrup grounded into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.
The Bulldogs had 15 hits in the contest led by Fontenot, who went 3-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored. He also drew a walk. Fleming was 2-for-2 with two RBIs, two walks and three runs scored. Willow was the only other McPherson player with multiple hits, while Smith and Strebin each drove in a pair.
McMullen had three hits and three RBIs to lead Hastings, while Petersen added three hits and an RBI.
Gotto threw 4 2/3 innings in the scheduled seven-inning contest to get the win. He scattered three runs (two earned) on eight hits and pair of walks while striking out two. Lewis threw 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, allowing a pair of inherited runners to score while walking one and striking out one.
Zach Fritton took the loss, throwing four inning and allowing six run (four earned) on seven hits while striking out one.
Game 2 — McPherson 8, Hastings 3
After each side left a runner on in a scoreless first inning, Hastings broke through with a run in the top of the second as McMullen scored on a Fitzgerald RBI single up the middle after a walk to open the frame.
McPherson answered with three in the bottom of the third. Kyle Wedel drew a walk to open the inning. Reily Martin followed by dropping down a bunt back to the mound. Bronco pitcher Tanner Nickoloff attempted to the get the force out at second base but his throw ended up in center field, allowing Wedel to move up to third. Another Hastings miscue in the outfield allowed Wedel to score and Martin to end up at second base on the play. Willow followed two batters later with a two-run blast to left-center to give the Bulldogs a 3-1 advantage.
The Broncos tied the game with two runs in the fifth as Utrup scored on a Petersen sacrifice fly and McMullen doubled to right-center to score AJ Schaefbauer all the way from first.
The Bulldogs broke the game open with five runs in the sixth. Fleming was hit by the first pitch thrown in the frame. Willow followed with a single before Ramos was beaned to load the bases. Pinch-runner Hunter Dreiling scored on a Brevin Baessler sacrifice fly, then Smith - running for Willow - scampered home when Fontenot reached on a squeeze bunt.
Jarrod Manick struck out the first two batters he faced in the top of the seventh. After allowing a walk to Peterson, he struck out McMullen looking to end the game.
The Broncos (4-10) finished with seven hits, led by McMullen with a double and an RBI. Fitzgerald also had a hit and an RBI.
McPherson was held to just six hits, including two by Willow. Willow also drove in a pair.
Despite striking out 10 batters, Nickoloff took the loss after being tagged with all eight McPherson runs in 5 1/3 innings.
Connor pitched a solid five innings, scattering three runs on six hits and two walks but left with a no-decision. Cameron Oram , making his season debut, allowed just a two-out single in a scoreless sixth to pick up the win.
The Bulldogs, now 17-7, jump straight back into Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference play this weekend with a three-game series at Ottawa University. The series kicks off with a doubleheader Saturday that begins at noon and will conclude Sunday with a single nine-inning game at 1 p.m.