The McPherson College baseball team ran its winning streak to five games with a doubleheader sweep of Bacone College Tuesday afternoon at Bulldog Park.
The Bulldogs (25-13) took game one, 8-2, then scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh capped by a suicide squeeze to post a 4-3 victory in game two.
Game 1 — McPherson 8, Bacone 2
McPherson posted 14 hits and got a strong start from Garrett Connor in the opener. The Bulldogs had an early opportunity in the bottom of the second, loading the bases as Brevin Baesslerand Dominick Ramos drew walks and Dylan Fontenot reached on an infield single. The Warriors escaped without any damage, though, as Mark Strebin grounded into a double play to end the inning.
McPherson finally broke through in the third with four runs on four hits. Lane Fleming legged out a two-run triple, then came in when Evan Willow tripled to right-center. Willow provided the final run on a Baessler RBI single to right.
After retiring Bacone in order in the top of the fourth, the Bulldogs tacked on three runs in the bottom half of the frame. Jakob Shields scored on a Trevor Haycock RBI single. Willow followed two batters later with a two-run double.
The Warriors pulled back one run each in the fifth and sixth innings on an RBI groundout by Corben Henry and a Bobby Willmon RBI single to shallow left. The damage could have been more extensive in the sixth, but Bacone left the bases loaded after Caleb Jeter lined out to right field to end the inning.
McPherson added another run in the sixth as pinch-runner Joe Kraus scored on a Ramos RBI single to right.
Tyler Dunn gave up a one-out single in the seventh, but retired the next two batters to close out the game.
Connor picked up the win on the mound, allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits and a walk before exiting the game with two outs and runners on the corners in the sixth.
Dunn threw the final 1 1/3 innings, giving up just one hit.
Willow finished a home run shy of the cycle and drove in a team-high three runs for the Bulldogs. Haycock, Fleming and Shields all added two hits with Fleming posting two RBIs.
Bacone starter Gage Staiger took the loss, allowing four runs on six hits and three walks while striking out two.
Henry and Willmon each had a hit and an RBI, while Hector Chirinos had a double and Alex Dominguez hit a triple.
Game 2 — McPherson 4, Bacone 3
The Bulldogs were held to just three hits over the first three innings and were unable to push a run across against Bacone game two starter Kyler Johnston.
The Warriors grabbed a 3-0 lead after three innings, scoring two on a misplayed grounder at third base in the second inning, then tacking on another when Dominguez scored on a sacrifice bunt.
McPherson was retired in order in the fourth and fifth innings and stranded a runner at second in the sixth.
Baessler led off the bottom of the seventh with a single to left, advancing to second on an overthrow from the outfield. Ramos then reached on an error to put runners on the corners. Justin Risdall followed with an RBI single up the middle to score Baessler prompting a pitching change from the Warriors.
Dominguez came to the hill and pegged Strebin with his first delivery to load the bases, then issued a four-pitch walk to Shields to draw the Bulldogs within a run. Jackson Goodmiller tied the game with a sacrifice fly to right.
Strebin ended the game three pitches later when he scored on a suicide squeeze bunt by Haycock.
"Trevor Haycock did a great job at the plate today," added head coach Bryan Moses. "Putting down a squeeze is not an easy thing to do with a runner bearing down on you."
Moses also singled out Risdall for his effort. "Justin Risdall has been really good in practice lately. He came in fresh off the bench midway through game two and I don't think we win that game without that clutch hit up the middle in the seventh. He was a major key today."
McPherson starter Cameron Oram allowed three runs (one earned) no five hits and a walk while striking out three but did not factor into the pitching decision.
Entering the game to start the sixth, Bailey Porter worked around a leadoff single and a two-out error but kept Bacone from scoring. Jarrod Manick followed with a perfect seventh inning to get the win.
Johnston threw five scoreless innings, allowing three hits and a walk while striking out five but, likewise, was not around for the decision.
Brandon Downey threw a scoreless sixth before running into trouble in the seventh and yielding to Dominguez, who took the loss.
Haycock was the lone Bulldog with multiple hits, while Dominguez had two hits - including a double - for Bacone before moving from shortstop to the mound in the seventh.
"When you win a close game, overcoming a deficit in your last at-bat, those are momentum builders," remarked Moses. "This will stick in the minds of our guys. If we're down like that again, we'll need to look back to that and come out without losing our energy.
Moses was also encouraged by the Bulldogs' performances on the mound.
"I thought both games were well-pitched and that's definitely good to see. It really shows that we're a little deeper within the pitching staff than we were earlier in the year and I think that helps us going into our weekend series down the stretch. We also got hits at the right time and that helped, especially in game one. We did a good job of applying pressure in those early innings and that took away any momentum Bacone had heading into the day."
Tuesday's sweep pushed McPherson to single-season program record with 25 victories, bettering the mark of 24 set just one season ago.
McPherson returns to Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) play this weekend with a three-game series against (RV) Friends University.
"This week has certainly given us confidence in our depth," Moses said. "But this weekend is going to be a tough series. [Friends] has three quality starters and, in my opinion, their one of the top three teams in the league. They're really solid. Our pitchers are going to need to put up zeroes because - given the opponent and the venue [Lawrence-Dumont Stadium] - I foresee low-scoring games where you're going to need to play clean to win. If we throw strikes and play clean, we have a chance."
Game one of the series is 7 p.m. Friday evening at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in Wichita. The series concludes with a doubleheader at 1 p.m. Saturday.