COLUMBUS — Pittsburg junior catcher Patrick Biggs provided a game-changing hit in the second game of a season-opening doubleheader Thursday night against the Columbus Titans, his shot to right field getting past a diving Ty Spear.
Biggs, who mostly played only behind the plate last season, worked his way around the bases for a triple, beating the throws of right fielder Spear and second baseman Nate Bole.
Biggs' courtesy runner Elijah Harris scored on a Drake Markley RBI double and Pittsburg went on to a 13-4 six-inning (not run-rule) victory over Columbus to procure the split.
"That was the sparkplug," Pittsburg head coach Keith Matlock told Matt Newbery during his postgame radio interview of Biggs' triple.
The Purple Dragons collected their 13 runs on 14 hits and one Columbus error, coming after only four runs on five hits and recording four errors in the first game, a 10-4 loss.
"I thought we came out really tight," Matlock said. "We came out like a young team, which we are. We had an opportunity there in the first 2-3 innings there to make a play and maybe shut some of those things down. But we talked before the game about not trying to compound mistakes or walks or whatever it was and we did. That's part of the first-game process and I thought we did a good job of learning from it."
Markley struggled a little bit early on but displayed some of his ability to strike out batters after Matlock paid the junior right-hander a mound visit.
"We just talked about he was really, really, really pushing his tempo too fast," Matlock said. "We want to work quick, we want to do some things but you've also got to stay within yourself. We just went and talked and said 'Hey, let's get back into our tempo. We dictate what's going on. Make sure we're finishing pitches.'
"He did a very good job after that of just settling down and getting into it. The first inning, he had that long inning and we were kinda worried because we're not thin pitching wise but you don't want to risk it this early. He did a good job of settling in after we talked and getting outs."
Lukas Redd collected three hits and Grant Moser hit a two-run single among the 14 Pittsburg recorded in Game 2.
"I thought Luke did a fantastic job tonight," Matlock said. "We had him in the 2-hole because he handles the bat really well. He can bunt, he can hit-and-run, we can do a lot of things with Luke. It seems like every night we need a good at-bat from him, we got it. He does a great job of making the pitcher throw strikes and working the count. I'm so proud of Luke because he's really worked his butt off to get where he's at."
Pittsburg left 12 runners on during a game scoring 13 runs.
The first inning of the opener set the tone.
Pittsburg's James Clark led off with a walk, stole second and advanced to within 90 feet of the first run on a Redd 6-3 groundout. Clark waited patiently for Columbus' rocket-armed shortstop JaVohn Morrill to throw to first base to run into third. However, Columbus starter Ben Jones buckled down and struck out Dante Richardson and Sage Mahnken.
In the bottom of the first, Morrill was hit by pitch, stole second and scored on a failed pickoff attempt by starting pitcher Richardson. Morrill reached all four times in the opener and recorded two doubles.
The Titans scored three runs in the first en route to a six-run victory in which Pittsburg managed only two extra-base hits, doubles by Clark and Mahnken, and five overall, including singles by Josh Jarvis and Ryan McNeely.
Richardson earned the loss and was relieved by McNeely and Connor Spresser.
"I thought he was good," Matlock said of Richardson. "To start out with, he was pretty amped up, which is going to happen. It's his first time out and we haven't had a whole lot of time throwing outside in conditions and things. I thought he did a pretty good job of getting some groundballs here and there, didn't get much help behind him to get started.
"I thought Ryan came in and did a great job. We brought Connor in to get that one out, a sophomore did a good job, comes in and fills it up. Dante will be good. Dante's Dante. Today wasn't his day and that happens."
Pittsburg (1-1) travels to Girard for a varsity/JV doubleheader Tuesday.
In head coach Megan Burleson's first doubleheader, Pittsburg softball swept Columbus 12-6 and 14-11.
PITTSBURG TENNIS: Pittsburg took first and third in a split-squad JV tournament Thursday, with Purple recording 12 points and White four.
Purple's Zach Dee defeated White's Trysten Lewis 6-0, Fort Scott's Jacob Bailey 6-2 and Chanute's Caleb Jones 6-4. Lewis lost 6-2 to Jones and 6-2 to Bailey.
Purple's Montana Jajo defeated White's Jack Warring 6-3, Fort Scott's Kyle Primeaux 6-4 and Chanute's Peyton Carnor 6-0. Warring defeated Cranor 7-6 (7-0) and lost 6-1 to Primeaux.
Purple's Zach Stewart-Ryan Newcomb defeated White's Dakota Lloyd-Caleb Dial 6-2, Chanute's Trey Eustice-Christian Vilama 6-1 and Fort Scott's Levi Reichard-Vonardo Chit 6-0. Lloyd-Dial defeated
Purple's Stewart-Newcomb defeated White's Lloyd-Dial 6-3, Chanute's Alex Moran-Grayson Johnson 6-1 and Fort Scott's Reichard-Chit 6-0. Lloyd-Dial defeated Reichard-Chit 6-0 and Moran-Johnson 6-4.
Pittsburg Purple 12, Chanute 5, Pittsburg White 4, Fort Scott 3.