by Tyler Scott, KCKCC sports information director
The No. 3 seeded Kansas City Kansas Community College baseball team was able to surpass No. 14 seeded Pratt Community College on Wednesday and Thursday to advance to the NJCAA Central District Championship next week in Manhattan, Kansas.
The Blue Devils defeated the Beavers 16-6 and 6-5 in 12 innings.
The Blue Devils eased past Pratt in the first contest, but faced an uphill battle in the second game after giving up a late 5-2 lead in the eighth inning.
The Blue Devils and Beavers had to decide the victor in extra innings and that is when Darius Freeman knocked in the winning run with one out in the 12th frame.
KCKCC is now 47-10 overall on the year.
In the first game the Blue Devils pounded out six straight runs and a game total of 18 hits.
Pratt got on the board in the fourth inning with a pair of runs, but KCKCC scored three runs in the bottom of the inning – taking a 9-2 lead.
Pratt tacked on four more runs in the next two innings, but the Blue Devils offense stayed consistent and closed out the game in the eighth inning after scoring three runs to win the game early.
Palmer Hutchison led the team with four hits and added three RBI along with Brendyn Bard. KCKCC had seven extra base hits in the game, with Bard, Caleb Adams, Freeman and Matthew Buffington hitting one triple apiece. Camden Karlin improved to 5-0 on the mound with five innings pitched.
In game two, the Blue Devils worked their way to a 5-2 lead in the seventh inning after breaking a 2-2 tie in the fifth. The Beavers climbed back with two runs and loaded the bases in the eighth inning.
A questionable miscue by the Blue Devils let the Beavers tie the game at 5-5. However, KCKCC escaped the jam and started its attempt to take advantage of opportunities to score.
Neither team could score in the next three and a half innings, so when the Blue Devils got their at bats in the 12th, they took care of business. Bard scored the winning run on a hit by Freeman and it was settled at that point.
Sanchez and Freeman each had three hits in the game. William Hann secured the victory on the mound, moving to 3-0 on the year.
KCKCC now awaits the winner of No. 11 seed Neosho County Community College – No. 6 seed Cloud County Community College, meeting one of those teams in Manhattan, Kansas, at 10 a.m. May 17.