The McPherson College baseball team extended their current winning streak to five games, with two wins over Avila University out at Bulldog Park on Friday.
The Bulldogs got off to a slow start offensively in the opening game of the day. They were shut out for seven innings, and they trailed the Eagles 1-0 for four and a half innings before finally getting something going in the eighth inning and taking the lead 2-1. It turned out to be enough as they were able to shut down the Eagles in the top of the ninth to secure the victory.
Josh Lewis got the start, on the mound for the Bulldogs and pitched a gem. He made one mistake, leaving a ball a little bit up in the zone that the Eagles' Patrick McGowan sent over the wall in left field. Other than he had great stuff all game. He finished with eight strikeouts and zero walks in eight innings pitched. He allowed the one run and limited the Eagles to just three hits.
After the Bulldogs took the lead in the eighth, the coaching staff went to the bullpen and brought in Jarrod Manick to close things out. Manick started the ninth a little bit shaky, walking the first batter he faced. The Eagles then bunted the runner into scoring position. With the tying run at second, Manick settled in and struck out the final two hitters to end the threat. Lewis was credited with the win, his fifth of the season, and Manick picked up his sixth save of the year, which tied a Bulldog record for saves in a season, and makes him the program's all-time saves leader with 8 in his career.
Offensively, the Bulldogs outhit the Eagles 8-to-3, but early on couldn't find a way to score any runs. They had a chance in the bottom of the second to take an early lead, but failed to capitalize on three straight hits to start the inning. They had the bases loaded and no outs, but a base running mistake kept them from scoring a run on a sac fly. Lane Fleming who was responsible for mistake on the base paths, redeemed himself in a huge way in the eighth. He came up again with a runner on first base, and on an 0-2 count, hit a "no doubter" to straight-a-way center field to give the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead. The homerun turned out being the game winner, and capped off a perfect 4-for-4 day for Fleming at the plate. Joining Fleming with multiple hits was Kristopher Perez who went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles.
After the dramatic win in game one, the Bulldogs came out strong in the second game of the day. They jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the first inning and looked to have the Eagles' starting pitcher figured out. He didn't have the velocity of the game one starter, and he threw a lot of "off speed" and breaking pitches early. In the second and third innings, the Bulldog hitters were too anxious and way out in front with their swings. They were shutout in those innings and the Eagles took advantage.
They scored two in the third, and one in the fourth to take a 3-1 lead, before the Bulldogs finally got back on the board again in the bottom of the fourth to trim the lead to 3-2. The Eagles extended the lead to 4-2 with a run in the top of the fifth before the Bulldogs scored three in the bottom of the inning to retake the lead 5-4. In the sixth the lead changed again twice. The Eagles retook the lead with a pair of runs in their at bat, then the Bulldogs broke the game open with a five spot in their half of the inning. Leading 10-6, in the top of the seventh, the Bulldogs shutout the Eagles to end the game and secure the series victory.
On the mound, the Bulldogs used four pitchers in the win, starting with Mairion Brunken. Brunken worked the first three innings, giving up two runs on three hits, with three strikeouts and two walks. Garrett Connor came out of the pen in the fourth, and threw the next two and a third. He was credited with three runs on four hits with, four strikeouts and one walk. When he left the game with one out in the sixth, the Bulldogs had a one run lead, but Eagles were threatening with a runner on third.
That run would come in to score, tying the game, with Adam Tabor on in relief of Connor. Tabor got the final two outs of the inning, but gave up another run to the Eagles on one hit. Fortunately, for Tabor, who was on the hook for the loss, ended up with the win when the Bulldog offense retook the lead in the bottom of the sixth. Manick was called on again out of the pen in the seventh. He struck out the side, but with a four run lead, was not in line for another save.
At the plate, the Bulldogs pounded out 12 hits, leading to 10 runs. Five Bulldogs recorded multiple hits, and four of the 12 hits went for extra bases. Brevin Baessler swung a hot bat for the Dogs. He went 2-for-3 on the day, hitting a double in the bottom of the first inning that drove in the first Bulldog run, and then finishing his day with a two run bomb in the bottom of the fifth. The other extra base hits were a double by Mark Strebin and a triple by Perez.
"I think our pitchers deserve a lot of credit today" Bulldog Head Coach Bryan Moses said. "Specifically, Lewis and Manick were really on their game today. Good wins for the DOGS"
The wins put the Bulldogs at 19-9 overall, and 10-5 in the KCAC. They currently find themselves in third place in the conference standings. With rain in the forecast for Saturday, the coaches decided to push the final game of the series with Avila to Sunday at 1 p.m..