The Independence Bulldogs came into JayCee Ballpark on Wednesday and played spoiler on Senior Night, sweeping Pittsburg 12-10 and 9-2.
The Purple Dragons were cursed by 10 errors and had some unfortunate breaks in their Southeast Kansas League doubleheader.
“It’s obviously not the way the seniors wanted to go out in their last home game,” Pittsburg head coach Keith Matlock said. “In the first game, we didn’t play very well. We hit it pretty well but defensively, we had some mistakes and we allowed them to get some momentum. We would score and they would turn around and answer it. It was just back and forth.
“We had been playing pretty well. I thought we had some good at-bats and everything. We just didn’t make the plays when we needed.”
Pittsburg jumped ahead early in the opener with three first-inning runs. Tanner Ellis led off with a single — extending his hit streak to nine games — and Spencer Bernhardt reached on an error. Nick Vacca drew a walk, Ellis scored on a balk, Anthony McNeely hit a RBI sacrifice fly and Todd Keller drove in a run on a RBI single, all plays involving seniors.
As became the pattern of the game, Independence responded with three runs. Clay Sears, who proved to be a thorn in the side of Pittsburg all first game, singled in a run and a Pittsburg fielding error helped score a second on the Sears hit. Parker Botts plated Sears on a perfect sacrifice bunt.
Pittsburg went ahead 4-3 in the second on a Ellis RBI single.
The longest inning of the night was the fourth.
Independence tallied four in its half, highlighted by a Dalton Coda two-run single and a Kyle Rinck RBI single. Sears got the offense started with a double.
Pittsburg answered with six and took a 10-7 lead. Drake Markley hit a two-run single. Vacca and Dante Richardson picked up RBI with bases-loaded walks. McNeely hit a RBI sacrifice fly.
The Bulldogs outscored the Purple Dragons 5-1 the rest of the way with three runs in the fifth and two in the seventh.
Sears blasted a solo home run in the seventh and outfielders Coda (center field) and Rinck (right field) made diving catches to close the door. Sears fell a triple shy of the cycle.
Pittsburg fell behind early 5-1 in the nightcap and could never muster anything more than single-run rallies in the second and the sixth.
Bernhardt hit a pair of rocket shots: a triple to deep center in the third and a solo homer to left center in the sixth.
Ellis singled in the seventh to extend his hitting streak to 10 games.
“Spencer, Tanner and Nick, all those seniors have been really good ambassadors for the program,” Matlock said. “That’s what we talked to them about after the game. They’re disappointed but they’re four-year kids and they’ve been good leaders. We’re going to hate to see them go.”
Page 2 of 3 - Seniors on the field Wednesday were Bernhardt, Ellis, Vacca, McNeely, Keller, Dylan Crozier and Evan Owen, all of whom started the first game.
Pittsburg dropped to 8-10 on the season with only a doubleheader against Labette County remaining before regionals.
“We talked to the boys,” Matlock said. “We’ll go down to Labette to play next week and after that, we’re guaranteed one more game. We’re hoping that we can go down there on Tuesday and try and get some momentum and get back what we had the last three games.”
Pittsburg lost both ends of a doubleheader to Independence, 6-4 and 8-3.
“We had a couple of bad innings,” Pittsburg head coach Mary Packard said. “But then our defense played pretty solid. We batted pretty good in the first game, had a lot of hits. Second game, it was a different story. We had too many strikeouts and too many pop-ups. We got people on but we couldn’t move them around.”
In the opener, Shelby Corn led the Independence offense with her lone hit a three-run home run. Jordan Sutton picked up three hits and Sierra Marquez added a RBI.
Andie Casper led Pittsburg with three hits in four at-bats and Alaura Short, Bethanne Elliott, Katy Short, Kylie Wilber, Megan Webb and Abby Harris each had a hit. Alaura Short, Wilber, Webb and Harris drove in runs.
Pittsburg (5-13, 5-5 SEK) was hurt by four errors, as Independence was limited to six hits.
Independence went ahead 6-0 in the nightcap after three innings and Pittsburg scored its only three runs in the seventh. Alaura Short drove in a pair of runs on a triple and Elliott batted home the final run of the game.
Corn led the Independence offense with a 3-for-4 at the plate with a run scored, a home run and two RBI. Marquez added two RBI.
Pittsburg left nine runners behind.
Independence baseball 12, Pittsburg 10
INDY 030 430 2 — 12 10 3
PHS 310 601 0 — 10 9 6
Courtlan Hayes, Parker Botts (4) and Devin Thompson. Spencer Bernhardt, Anthony McNeely (5) and Patrick Biggs. WP: Botts. LP: McNeely. E: Chris Jones, Cooper Augustine, Dakota Zinn; Dante Richardson 2, Tanner Ellis, Bernhardt, McNeely, James Clark. 2B: Clay Sears. HR: Sears. SF: Cody Sears; McNeely 2. SH: Botts, Hayes. SB: Bernhardt 2, Clark 2, McNeely, Ryan McNeely, Nick Vacca, Drake Markley. CS: Evan Owen. HBP: Jones, Botts; Keller. LOB: INDY 7, PHS 7.
Independence 9, Pittsburg 2
INDY 230 011 2 — 9 10 1
PHS 010 001 0 — 2 6 4
Dalton Coda and Devin Thompson. Drake Markley, Dylan Crozier (7) and Patrick Biggs. WP: Coda. LP: Markley. E: Cooper Augustine; Nick Vacca 2, Crozier, Biggs. 3B: Spencer Bernhardt. HR: Bernhardt. SB: Kyle Rinck 2, Coda, Parker Botts; Anthony McNeely 2. HBP: James Clark. LOB: INDY 5, PHS 6.
Page 3 of 3 - Game One
Independence 6, Pittsburg 4
INDY 110 020 2 — 6 6 2
PHS 020 001 1 — 4 9 4
WP: Allison. LP: Mercedes Vogel. E: Wright 2; Andie Casper 2, Vogel, Alaura Short. 2B: Sutton. 3B: Katy Short. HR: Corn. SB: Wright. HBP: Shaw; Hannah Drenik. LOB: INDY 11, PHS 6.
Independence softball 8, Pittsburg 3
INDY 222 001 1 — 8 11 2
PHS 000 000 3 — 3 8 2
WP: Corn. LP: Andie Casper. E: Shaw, Sutton; Bethanne Elliott, Megan Webb. 2B: Sutton. 3B: Alaura Short. HR: Corn. SF: Elliott. SB: Katy Short. HBP: Shaw. LOB: INDY 6, PHS 9.