The McPherson College baseball team opened up their final regular season series on Friday with a split with the York College Panthers. The Bulldogs have secured their place in next week's KCAC postseason tournament, but this weekend is big because it will determine what seed the Bulldogs will get in the championships.
The Bulldogs entered the weekend sitting number two in the KCAC standings, and in order to stay in that slot, they needed at least a series win over the Panthers this weekend. Things didn't start out so hot for the Bulldogs as they dropped the series opener 12-4, but they bounced back in game two and kept their hopes alive with an 8-5 victory.
Josh Lewis got the start in game one for the Bulldogs and ultimately was collared with the loss. He worked the first six innings, allowing four runs on seven hits, with two strikeouts and three walks. After Lewis, it was Brett Carter, Jake Herman and Garrett Ham out of the bullpen. Garter was credited with six runs in an 1.1 of work, Herman gave up two runs in two-thirds of an inning, and Ham pitched a scoreless ninth inning with one strikeout.
Offensively, despite playing in their home park with the wind blowing out, the Bulldogs struggled to put runs on the board. They finished with four runs on eight hits, seven of them singles, but stranded ten runners on base. Trevor Johnson and Brevin Baessler led the Mac offense, both going 3-for-5. The one extra base hit in game one was a two-run home run by Lane Fleming in the seventh inning.
The Bulldogs quickly put the struggles of game one behind them and came out swinging in game two. In their first at bat, the Bulldogs sent 12 batters to the plate and scored six runs on seven hits. They would add a run in the 2.1 innings and then hang on the rest of the way to outlast the Panthers 8-5.
Mairion Brunken was on the bump for the Bulldogs in game two. He got through the first two innings unscathed, but was roughed up in the third when the visitors put up a three spot. Brunken was pulled after 2.1 and was replaced by Garrett Connor. Connor went the next 2.2 innings, giving up just two runs on two hits and ended up picking up the win. In the sixth inning, the Bulldog coaching staff elected to bring in their closer, Jarrod Manick for a six out save. He did just that, holding the Panthers scoreless and hitless and recording four of the six outs via a strikeout.
Offensively, the Bulldogs were much more efficient in the second game of the doubleheader. They plated eight runs on nine hits with eight left on base. Beassler continued to swing a hot bat for the Bulldogs, as did Jakob Shields. Both players were perfect from the dish in game two, both going 2-for-2 with a pair of walks. Mark Strebin also had a couple of hits, going 2-for-4 with a double and a solo homed run.
Friday's split puts the bulldogs at 36-14 overall and 22-10 in the KCAC. The series with York will resume on Sunday with a single nine starting at 1:00 pm. Before the game, the Bulldogs will honor five seniors, who will be playing at Bulldog Park for the final time.