by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
Kansas City Kansas Community College’s Blue Devils felt they let a win get away when Fort Scott rallied for an extra inning decision last Wednesday. The Blue Devils got one back Sunday.
Freshman Tyler Henry belted a dramatic game-tying 3-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning and then doubled in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth for a 4-3 win over the Greyhounds. KCKCC then completed the sweep, riding Victor Gotay’s pitching gem to a 4-1 nightcap win.
The winningest team in the Jayhawk Conference at 14-2, the Blue Devils trail Johnson County (10-0) and Cowley (11-1) at the halfway point of the conference season.
KCKCC (25-7) plays host to Maple Woods in a twin bill Tuesday at 1 p.m. Originally scheduled to be played at Maple Woods, KCKCC will be the visiting team. The Blue Devils resume Jayhawk play Thursday at Neosho County.
KCKCC had only one hit, a leadoff single by Traice Hartter, going into the seventh inning of the opener against Fort Scott’s Raine Richter, who had retired 15 hitters in a row when Jose Sosa ended the streak with a one-out double.
Kemper Bednar drew a walk and Henry greeted relief ace Brayden Leathers with a game-tying 3-run shot to left.
Sosa also started KCKCC’s game-winning ninth with a single and after Bednar grounded into a force out at second, Henry hit a game-ending drive into the gap in left-center with Bednar scoring easily on the hit.
For Henry, an outfielder from Gardner-Edgerton, it was the biggest game of his career, high school or college.
“I was just hoping it would not go foul,” Henry said about the home run. He had no doubts on the game-winning double.
“Their pitcher was really tough on us and then they brought in their closer who had been lights out,” KCKCC coach Matt Goldbeck said. “Sosa had a big hit and Bednar a good at bat in drawing a walk and bringing the tying run to the plate. Henry was down 0-2 and took some tough breaking balls to fight back to a 3-2 count and then hit a big-time home run.”
Sophomore Osvaldo Mendez had a shutout for five innings before Fort Scott broke the scoreless tie, taking a 1-0 lead in the sixth on three consecutive singles. The Greyhounds made it 3-0 in the seventh, scoring the two runs on four hits off reliever Gaby Ramos before Ramos retired the final seven Greyhounds to come to bat.
“Mendez pitched very well,” Goldbeck said about the freshmen lefthander who struck out seven and walked none. “Fort Scott is one of the more offensive teams in the conference; an outstanding job in holding them to one run.”
Gotay, a sophomore from Kissimmee, Florida, was superb in the nightcap, allowing just three hits, striking out eight and walking none. Only four Greyhounds reached base against Gotay, who was backed by two double plays. He left only one runner on base. The lone run came in the fourth inning, a home run by Owen Wilson.
By then the Blue Devils had built a 4-0 lead with Henry again providing big hits. Hartter led off the KCKCC first with a double and scored on an error and Henry singled in a second run for a 2-0 lead.
The Blue Devils made it 4-0 in the third on a double by Kevin Santiago, single by Sosa, sacrifice fly by Bednar and Henry’s double.
“Gotay pitched his best game in two years; no walks,” Goldbeck said. “Our catcher (Griffin Everitt) came to us before the game and said we needed to pitch off his breaking ball and he threw more than in any other game by any of our pitchers. A complete game win against Fort Scott is special. To have two of them in four games is really something and something that Coach (Pedro) Leon, who works with the pitchers, should be very proud.”