Story by Alex Hammeke
Barton Baseball picked off where they left off from last year's 19-3 record with a pair of victories against their cougar counterparts from Western Nebraska Community College, taking the opener 9-1 before prevailing 11-10 in the tenth inning.
The traditional four-game wood-bat series being played with aluminum bats for the first time in recent memory, will resume at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday at Lawson-Biggs Field.
Game One Recap
Graham Brunner helped set the defensive tone for Barton early, with the left handed pitcher allowing two hits and striking out seven in his four innings on the hill.
Barton started off with hot bats in the first inning, with Alex Rodgers kicking off the '21 campaign with a ground rule double just inside the left field foul pole. Micah Grover would bring in Rodgers on a Double of his own on the next at-bat. Grover, Carson Pracht, and Connor Scott make their trips around the bases to give Barton a 4-0 lead after one frame.
The bats wouldn't keep quiet, as Pracht would drive in JoJo Nieves for the lone run of the second inning. Nieves would find himself on the hitting end of scoring in the third inning, as his double would bring in Jordan Ellison and Conner Allen. Rodgers would score off a Pracht single to finish out the third inning.
Ellison would hit a deep home run to extend the Barton lead to nine through four innings of action.
Barton had their tenth run of the game just ninety feet away at the Bottom of the fifth, but the Cougars would pick up their final out before they could bring Grover home. Barton would remain scoreless in the sixth going down in order.
Western Nebraska would finally score in the top of the seventh, as Matt Womack's double would bring in JT Cafferty.
Rodgers and Ellison would both bring in two runs for Barton, while JoJo Nieves paced the Cougars with three hits.
Game Two Recap
Barton would score five runs in the first four frames, starting with Rodgers and Pracht running in on a passed ball opportunity to kick off the scoring. Carson Shively would score on a ground out from Jackson Hartley in the second. Pracht would score off of a triple from Scott in the third, and Ellison would send his second home run flying behind the scoreboard at Lawson-Biggs Field in the fourth.
Finding their backs to the wall, the Cougars of WNCC would score all the runs they needed to tie the ball game, starting off when Quinn McCafferty broke into the scoring column for the Cougars from Scottsbluff. Sergio Tarango and Jack Jones would score off a single from Luis Alcantara to bring WNCC within two, and Alcantara and Jayden Orozco would tie the ball game at five off a deep line drive to center from Joey Olson.
Barton would go down in order in the bottom of the inning, but Barton would keep Western Nebraska in check at the top of the sixth with three outs in four WNCC plate appearances.
Barton found offensive firepower in the bottom of the sixth, with Ellisongiving the Cougars a shot of adrenaline with his second homer of the game, which also brought Caden Bressler home. Nieves would keep the scoring party going making it to home plate off Rodgers reach on error, and Grover's single would bring in Rodgers.
Western Nebraska would climb out of their deficit just like they did in the fifth, spreading five runs over the seventh and eighth innings. Orozco and Dillon Fabricus scored in the seventh, and Orozco would score again in the eighth with Alcantara and Olson to give Western Nebraska a 10-9 lead heading into the final frame and a half.
Barton would tie the ball game at ten when Ellison would make it to home on a line out from Hartley. Barton would strand game winning base runners at third at the end of the eighth and at second at the end of the ninth. Barton played excellent defense down the stretch with winning pitcher Peyton Tinkler striking out five Western Nebraska batters in the final three innings, with four of the five strikeouts in the last two frames.
Barton would only need two base runners in the bottom of the tenth. Nieves had a high bunt grounded out to the catcher to start the Barton frame, and Rodgers was walked. Rodgers advanced to third while Grover was at bat, eventually flying out. Pracht would hit a grounder straight to third, but an infield error on Western Nebraska kept WNCC from executing the 5-3 ground out play to end the inning, leading to Rodgers driving in the game winning run.
Ellison led three of the batting categories for the Cougars, paced by his pair of homers in the second contest. Rodgers and Ellison both had three runs in the contest for Barton, and Ellison had three RBI's in the contest. Ellison and Grover led the team with two hits apiece.