The McPherson College baseball team made it three in a row by picking up a pair of non-conference wins over Doane College at Bulldog Park on Wednesday.
Both games had their share of drama. In the opening game of the series, the Bulldogs jumped out to a quick lead, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first. However, over the next five innings, Doane changed pitchers about every inning, and it seemed to keep the Bulldog hitters from finding any rhythm at the plate. Doane put up four runs in the top of the third, to take the lead, and with the Bulldog bats silent, it looked like it might stay that way.
In the bottom of the sixth, one swing of the bat changed everything. Jackson Goodmiller started the inning off with an infield single and then stole second base. After a sacrifice bunt by Jakob Shields sent Goodmiller to third, Brevin Baessler reached base via a walk. Kyle Lux battled back after being down in the count, also drawing a free pass to first. That set up the Bulldogs with the bases loaded and Lane Fleming at the plate. Fleming took the first pitch for a ball. The next pitch was a fastball right down the pike, and Fleming took advantage of the pitcher's mistake. He sent the ball over the centerfield fence for a grand slam, his second long ball of the season.
Now back in the lead 7-4, the drama wasn't over for the Bulldogs. In the next half inning, the Tigers opened with a single and a stolen base. A wild throw on the steal attempt allowed the Tiger runner to advance to third. A double by the next Tiger hitter, scored the runner from third and with nobody out, the tying run was at the plate. The next Tiger walked, and then a sac bunt moved both runners into scoring position. With runners on second a third and one out, Josh Lewis struck out the next Tiger hitter. The Tigers sent a pinch hitter to the plate and on an 0-1 pitch, hit a bullet on the ground toward the gap between first and second. Fleming, the Bulldog first baseman, dove to his right, corralled the ball, and flipped it to Lewis covering the bag, to end the game.
Tyler Norris got the start for the Bulldogs on the mound and worked the first three innings. He gave up four runs to the Tigers on six hits, striking out six and walking two. In the fourth inning, the Bulldogs went to the pen, and brought in Brett Carter. Carter threw three innings of hitless, scoreless baseball and the Bulldogs retook the lead with him on the mound so he ended up with the win. Lewis pitched the seventh inning, and was credited with the save.
Despite the lull in scoring between the first and sixth innings, the Bulldogs still managed to come up with ten hits on the day. Fleming and Goodmiller led the Bulldogs, each going 2-for-3. Fleming also finished the day with a run scored and five RBI. The Bulldogs had two other extra base hits in game one, a double by Mark Strebin and a triple by Lux.
Game two started out rather benign, with neither team able to put any runs on the board for the first couple of innings. In the bottom of the fourth, the Bulldogs got things going, putting up four runs and taking command of the game. The next half inning, the Tigers cut the lead in half, but Bulldogs got those runs right back in their next at bat. Heading into the fifth, the Bulldogs still had a four run advantage, 6-2. The Tigers made things interesting scoring a run in both the fifth and sixth innings to get to within two of the Bulldogs. Mac extended the lead back out to three, with what would turn out being a huge insurance run, in the bottom of the sixth.
In the top of the seventh the game got interesting. The first Tiger hitter popped out, followed by a single by the next batter. A fielder's choice on the next Tiger at bat, left the Tigers down to their final out, with a runner on first base. Nerves may have become a factor for Tyler Dunn, who was on the mound for the Bulldogs. He walked the next Tiger hitter and then gave up a single, scoring the runner from second. The runner on first went to second on the hit, and then tried stretching it to third. McCoy Pearce cut the ball off from right field and fired to third to try and get the runner. The ball got away from Justin Risdall allowing the runner at third to also score.
Now the Tigers were within one and had the tying run on second. Dunn got behind 2-0 to the next Tiger hitter, so the Bulldog coaching staff, with first base unoccupied, decided to intentionally walk him. Still needing just one out to end the game, Dunn walked the next Tiger, loading the bases. Coach Moses went to the bullpen, and brought in Jake Herman to see if he could finish the job. He confidently took the mound, and delivered a fast ball for a strike on his first pitch. Doane's Jack Tillman, who was 0-for-3 on the day, took the next fast ball he saw, and ripped it to left field. Fortunately for the Bulldogs, he got under it just enough, and Baessler read it perfectly, catching it around his knees, ending the game.
The Bulldogs used four pitchers in the win in game two. Garrett Ham got the start, and the win. He worked the first four innings, allowing two runs on five hits with three strikeouts and one walk. Adam Tabor pitched the fifth inning, giving up two runs on four hits, followed by Dunn, who pitched the sixth inning and two-thirds of the seventh. Herman got the final out of the seventh, throwing just two pitches and picked up the save.
At the plate, the Bulldogs scored their seven runs on nine hits, six of them coming from Dominick Ramos, Baessler and Pearce. Ramos was behind the plate for the Bulldogs and finished 2-for-3 with a pair of singles. Baessler was also 2-for-3 with a double, a run scored and three RBI. Pearce finished his day a perfect 2-for-2 with a single, a double and two runs scored.
"It was great to see so many dogs contribute today," Bulldogs' Head Coach Bryan Moses said. "Doane was clean and they played well. We really needed to show up today in our midweek today to win."
With the sweep, the Bulldogs are now 17-9 of the year and winners of three straight. They get back to KCAC ball this weekend when the Avila University Eagles come to town. The three-game series is currently set for a doubleheader on Friday, and a single 9 on Saturday. There are thunderstorms in the forecast for Saturday, so the schedule may change between now and then.