The Chanute Blue Comets played spoiler Thursday night at JayCee Ballpark, sweeping Pittsburg 8-3 and 7-5 during a Southeast Kansas League twinbill.
Playing their first games of the season, Pittsburg committed six errors and fell behind early in both games, 4-0 in the first and 6-0 in the second.
“We talked to the kids about it,” Pittsburg head coach and Chanute alum Keith Matlock said. “In some spots, we’ve got some young kids out there first time they’re playing a varsity game. We got outside the last couple days but this is the first time we’ve had a chance to get outside and get a lot of work done. We didn’t expect it to be super-clean but the thing that’s good about it is they’re all fixable errors. They’re all things the kids know. It was a rough first doubleheader but we can build off it for sure.”
Three errors were made in the first game on pitchers’ throws to first base.
Trailing 7-1 in the second game, facing their final at-bat, the Purple Dragons came through with a four-run rally sparked by three consecutive singles by three sophomores — Grant Moser, Patrick Biggs and Lucas Redd.
Fellow sophomore Drake Markley drove in Moser with a sacrifice fly and senior Spencer Bernhardt blasted a three-run home run off Chanute relief pitcher Kenton Richards. Richards, a freshman, buckled down and retired the final two Pittsburg batters for the sweep.
“We told them out here how proud we were of them continuing to battle,” Matlock said. “That was three sophomores that had very little varsity experience who got that rally started. We continued to fight and that’s all we can ask for out of them.”
Markley helped keep Pittsburg in the game on the mound, allowing one run on no hits over three innings of relief. He struck out five straight in the sixth and seventh — Jordan Richards, Gus Walker, Alex Son, Matt Keenan and Blake Kisner. Pittsburg avoided being run-ruled after trailing 6-0 after three.
“Drake, maybe we should have went to him sooner but he came out and filled it up,” Matlock said. “He did a good job. He’d been having a little bit of a sore shoulder so we didn’t know exactly what to expect out of him. I can’t be any more proud of how hard he came out and competed. He came in and stopped it and gave us a chance to win a baseball game.”
Pittsburg had six extra-base hits over 14 innings — including a towering solo home run off a light pole by senior Todd Keller in the opener and the three-run home run by Bernhardt. Bernhardt also doubled in the second game. Hitters are traditionally behind the pitchers early in the season but Pittsburg totaled 17 hits Thursday night.
Page 2 of 2 - “We did a couple weeks ago when it was nice outside,” Matlock said. “We had a couple scrimmages but here the last week and a half, it’s been staying in and seeing live pitching indoors. We get a lot of live BP in but that changes when there’s a live arm.”
Christian Wiltse led the Chanute offense with a 5-for-8 twinbill, including 3-5 in the opener.
Pittsburg (0-2) hosts Girard on Tuesday night and Chanute won its first two games of the season after being swept by Iola before Spring Break.
Chanute 8, Pittsburg 3
CHA 220 013 0 — 8 9 0
PHS 002 010 0 — 3 6 4
Brock Gilmore, Kenton Richards (7) and Gus Walker. Spencer Bernhardt, James Clark (6) and Todd Keller. WP: Gilmore. LP: Bernhardt. E: Bernhardt 2, Grant Moser, Clark. 2B: Jared Fiscus; Dylan Crozier, Nick Vacca, Moser. HR: Keller. SH: Fiscus. SF: Jordan Richards. SB: Jack Martin, Fiscus, K. Richards. CS: Christian Wiltse. HBP: Bernhardt, Vacca. LOB: CHA 9, PHS 8.
Chanute 7, Pittsburg 5
CHA 042 001 0 — 7 9 2
PHS 000 010 4 — 5 8 2
Jordan Richards, Kenton Richards (7) and Gus Walker. Dylan Crozier, Drake Markley (5) and Patrick Biggs. WP: J. Richards. LP: Crozier. E: J. Richards; Nick Vacca, Grant Moser. 2B: Spencer Bernhardt. HR: Bernhardt. SH: Jared Fiscus, John Morris, Matt Keenan. SF: Jack Martin; Markley. SB: Gilmore, Christian Wiltse. HBP: Walker. LOB: CHA 8, PHS 4.