By Brandon Smith - Barton Sports Info
The Barton Community College baseball team put up a six run second inning and rode eight solid innings from starting pitcher Zach Thornton at Lawson-Biggs Field Wednesday afternoon earning a game one 7-2 victory in the opening round of the Central District Region VI Tournament.
Improving to 40-16 on the season, the Cougars take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three game series with Labette dropping to 17-31. Barton will look to close out the series tomorrow afternoon with game two scheduled to get underway at 1:00 p.m. with admission to the nine-inning game free to the public, with audio/video web streaming and live stats found at www.BartonSports.com.
In the bottom of the second, Barton would push across the opening two runs benefitting off a trio of wild pitches and four straight walks to open the frame drawn by Dryden Howse, Connor Allen, Shawn Marquis and Wade Reynolds. Adding a third run on a Jace Stewart RBI groundout, three straight two-out Cougar RBI singles by Alex Rodgers, Ricardo Sanchez and Henry Hayman supplied a 6-0 advantage.
Locked into a pitcher's duel over the next three innings with only one hit coming on a fifth inning Howse double, the Cougars ended the scoreless stretch in the sixth on Rodgers' second RBI single of the day bringing home a Nieves one-out single and steal extending the advantage to 7-0.
Facing his lone jam of the day succeeding three straight singles to load the bases in the seventh, Thornton limited the damage permitting one run inducing a double play and groundout escaping further trouble.
Labette's Gabe Russell added the game's final tally in the top of the ninth with a solo-shot to left center resting the final score to 7-2.
Allowing just one run over eighth innings, Thornton scattered just four hits and struck out six improving his perfect mark to 9-0 on the year. Continuing his climb up, the programs single season record books, Thornton moved into a fifth place tie for most wins and leaped into sole possession of fifth place with 88 strikeouts and counting.
Bryan Bartels tossed the final frame out of the bullpen allowing two hits, one run and fanning a pair of Cardinals.
Rodgers, Sanchez, Howse and Nieves each paced the Barton bats recording a pair of hits with Rodgers leading the runs driven in production with two.