The Barton Community College baseball team opened the 2015 season in Poteau, Oklahoma, with a doubleheader split Saturday at Carl Albert State College then won a pitcher’s duel tenth inning affair to close out the trip 2-1 on the host Vikings. The Cougars began the season getting a 3-1 win for first year head coach Brent Biggs but dropped the second game 8-2. Trailing by one into the eighth inning Sunday, Barton rallied to tie and pushed in a tenth inning winning run to capture a 3-2 victory. Barton will carry its 2-1 record into next weekend’s home opener as the Cougars welcome the Cougars of Western Nebraska Community College for a four-game series. First pitch for both the Saturday and Sunday doubleheaders set for 1:00 p.m. at Lawson-Biggs Field.
Sophomore Bryce Minor got the Cougars rolling leadoff with a single to begin the second inning. Following Tyler Jennings being plunked by a pitch and a Tyler Hughes groundout, freshman Lance White put the Cougars on the board with a sacrifice fly to scoring Minor. One batter later freshman Dylan Kuhn drove Jennings home as Barton jumped out to a 2-0 lead.
Carl Albert got their lone run in the bottom of the third as leadoff hitter Dalton McKaughan lifted one over the left field fence.
As the Cougar bats were silent for three straight innings, the combined pitching of Jordan Plank and freshman Jackson Rose, and Shane Adams protected the lead pitching out of jams. Plank, an Emporia State University signee, got the starting nod and earned the win in the opener pitching four innings surrendering the lone run, two hits, while striking out two and walking just one. Working a five-pitch inning, Rose took care of the fifth while Adams sent the Vikings down in order as well protecting the one run lead to the seventh.
Barton got a much needed insurance run in the top of the seventh as Jennings doubled to right field to set the table. Following a Josh Farrington sacrifice, White came through with a big hit to right field scoring Jennings for the two run lead.
All-Conference pitcher and University of Tennessee Martin signee Alex Evans slammed the door on Carl Albert with a 1-2-3 seventh to secure the first win in the Biggs’ coaching era.
Grant Watkins began his sophomore campaign going 2-for-3 while White made his debut with two RBI going 1-of-2 from the plate.
In game two, a four-run second inning put the Cougars in a hole early. Getting only two hits in the inning, the Vikings were aided by three walks and a hit batsman.
The Cougars cut into the deficit in the fifth getting a leadoff double by Trevor Turner then scoring on Watkins single to right field. Another double to center by Turner in the sixth drove home Evan McDonald who reached being hit by a pitch then stole second as Barton cut the deficit in half.
A disastrous home half of the sixth inning doomed the Cougars as Carl Albert put up four runs on two singles, three errors, and a walk.
Blaine Hill took the loss for Barton lasting just one inning giving up four runs on one hit while walking three and striking out one.
Turner had two of Barton’s five hits in the game with doubles in the fifth and sixth inning driving in the lone RBI.
The teams returned to the diamond on Sunday for a single nine-inning game. Left handed freshman Cody Brewer got the ball for his first collegiate start sending the Vikings down in order. Carl Albert returned the favor in the home half of the second getting a single, stolen base, and a two-out single to center to take the early one run lead.
Getting runners aboard the first four innings, Barton finally broke through in the fifth. McDonald and Jacob Richardson, who both had two hits on the day, strung back-to-back one-out singles followed by a passed ball setting up Turner’s ground out to shortstop plating McDonald to tie the game.
Jayme Lovelace, coming in to start the sixth, ran into some trouble in the seventh allowing Carl Albert to regain the lead. Fiving up a leadoff single, Lovelace appeared to be out of the inning but a Cougar fielding error allowed the Vikings to take a one run advantage.
Watkins worked a one-out walk to reach base but was thrown out trying to steal second putting the cougars down to their last out of the inning. Jennings came up with a big walk to keep the inning alive setting up freshman Seth Troll delivering the clutch two-out hit with a triple down the right line to tie the contest.
Mitch Malherbe made his debut in the home half, pitching out of a leadoff double jam with two strikeouts and inducing a groundout to short.
McDonald two-out single kept the Barton ninth alive, but trying to get himself into scoring position, McDonald was gunned out to end the inning. Striking out the first Viking in the ninth, Malherbe plunked Alex Wheeland with Wheeland adding harm by stealing second on the next pitch. Moving over to third on McKaughan’s fielder’s choice, Malherbe gave up a walk before striking out Seth Sandlin to end the threat.
With one-out in the tenth, Turner was hit by pitch then one-pitch later stole second base. Watkins tapper to the mound proved costly to the Vikings as the ball in to first base skipped to the outfield allowing Turner to come around for the go-ahead run.
Evans came out of the bullpen for the second straight day and despite his own error allowing Carl Albert’s Brock Zanca to reach second base, settled in to induce a harmless fly ball and ground out to preserve the win for Malherbe.