The McPherson College baseball team pounded out 17 hits but needed to hold off a late rally by Kansas Wesleyan University to pick up a 13-12 victory Sunday in the rubber game of a three-game Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference series at Bulldog Park.
Persistent South winds of 25-30 miles per hour that gusted - at times - to over 40 miles per hour wreaked havoc with any ball in the air whether from a pitch or off the bat.
After retiring the side in order in the top of the first inning, the Bulldogs immediately got to work in the bottom half of the frame. Jackson Goodmiller and Brevin Baessler drew back-to-back walks before Lane Fleming hit a double down the right-field line to score Goodmiller. Evan Willow followed with another walk to load the bases, but the Coyotes were able to escape without any further damage.
Each team scored a run in the second inning with KWU moving out in front with an Aaron Hurd RBI single and McPherson answering with an RBI single by Goodmiller off reliever Travis Schnoor. The Coyotes once again tied the game with a run in the top of the third as Aaron Cross scored on an RBI groundout by Rex Campbell, then moved in front in the fourth on a two-run home run to left by Russ McClung.
The Bulldogs rallied for eight unanswered runs in the fourth and fifth innings to take a 10-4 lead. McPherson opened the fourth with six straight hits, including a two-run double from Trevor Haycock and an RBI single by Dylan Fontenot , before recording an out. Dominick Ramos followed with a two-run single through the hole at short.
In the fifth, Haycock rapped a one-out double to left-center, then came around to score on a two-run blast to left by Fleming. Ramos added an RBI single up the middle that scored pinch-runner Reily Martin .
Kansas Wesleyan began to slowly chip away at the McPherson advantage beginning with two runs in the seventh inning. Campbell reached on a one-out single, signaling the end of the day for Bulldog starting pitcher Luke Whitfield . Jarrod Manick ( came in and Zach Lehman jumped on his initial offering by depositing it over the left-field fence. Manick settled down, though, getting a strikeout and a pop-out to end the inning.
The Coyotes followed with three more runs in the top of the eighth, loading the bases courtesy of a hit-batsman and a pair of singles off Manick before Craig Bettis blasted a two-run double to right-center. Brett Carter came in from the bullpen and retired the next three batters to get the Bulldogs out of the inning, but not before allowing another run to cross on a groundout to first by Campbell.
McPherson finally got back on the board with three runs in the bottom of the eighth. Ramos hit a one-out homer to left-center, then Haycock followed with another two-run single to give the Bulldogs a 13-9 cushion headed to the ninth.
The hosts would need every bit of that cushion as the Coyotes staged a ninth-inning rally. Adriel Guzman opened the frame with a double to left-center, then scored on a one-out Dalton Whitaker single through the hole at short. McClung followed with another two-run homer to left to draw KWU back within a run at 13-12. That ended Carter’s day as McPherson head coach Bryan Moses handed the ball to Tyler Dunn. Dunn struck out Hurd for the second out, but then tagged Bettis with a pitch to put the game-tying run on base. Cross followed by hitting into a game-ending fielder’s choice that retired Bettis at second base.
“When you play in conditions like this, a lot of times, it’s going to be who can outlast who,” said Moses after the game. “We got a huge hit from Trevor Haycock in the bottom of the eighth to add two more runs, and - without that hit - I think we’re talking about a different result right now. We got the big hits when it counted late.”
Ramos and Haycock both finished with three hits and four RBIs, while Fleming added three hits and three RBIs. Fleming also became the answer to a trivia question as the first Bulldog to hit a home run at Bulldog Park. Goodmiller and Fontenot added two hits apiece.
“Ramos was really clutch today,” added Moses. “The home run was huge in the bottom of the eighth, but he also came up with bases loaded and one out in the fourth after our sixth batter had struck out and gets a ball through the left side to score two. That was big because earlier in the day (in the first inning), we had bases loaded and didn’t score.”
Whitfield grabbed the win, allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits and a pair of walks while striking out eight in 6.1 innings. Dunn struck out one en route to the two-out save.
“I thought Luke (Whitfield) was incredible. To give up four runs in 6 1/3 inning in 50 mile-per-hour winds, that’s really good. We liked him today because he throws a ‘heavy’ ball. He throws three pitches for strikes, so we felt really good about his start, and you kind of forget about it by the end considering what happened after he left the game. His performance should not go unnoticed.”
McClung had a monster day at the plate, going 4-for-5 with two home runs, four RBIs, four runs scored and a stolen base. He also makes the Bulldog Park record book by becoming the first player overall to send a ball out at the new venue, as well as the first to do it twice in a game. Hurd added three hits, including a double, while Lehman had two - including the home run.
Schnoor - one of six Coyote pitchers on the day - was tagged with the loss after allowing five runs on nine hits in 2.0 innings.
The Bulldogs, already halfway to tying last year’s school-record win total, face a stiff test next weekend when they travel to Bartlesville, Oklahoma, to face fifth-ranked Oklahoma Wesleyan University in another three-game KCAC series. McPherson took one of three from the then-No. 3-ranked Eagles in Bartlesville last season. The teams also met at last year’s KCAC Tournament with OKWU emerging with a 16-8 victory.
“(Oklahoma Wesleyan) is going to be crisp, they’re going to be well-coached, they’re going to make few mistakes, and they’re going to throw quality arm after quality arm at you,” said Moses. “We’re just going to really need to battle in our at-bats and get the count in our favor and force them into mistakes.”
First pitch for Friday’s first game - a single 9-inning contest - is slated for 2 p.m. for Doenges Memorial Stadium in Bartlesville. The teams will complete the three-game set with a doubleheader Saturday beginning at noon.