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Morning Sun
  • Coming through in the clutch

  • Pittsburg baseball desperately needed a doubleheader sweep of the Independence Bulldogs on Friday night at JayCee Ballpark.

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  • Pittsburg baseball desperately needed a doubleheader sweep of the Independence Bulldogs on Friday night at JayCee Ballpark.
    Independence entered Friday on top of the Southeast Kansas League standings with a 10-2 league record and Pittsburg stood at 6-4, two games behind in the loss column along with the Iola Mustangs.
    Pittsburg came up with that doubleheader sweep, winning 6-3 and 3-1 to make the final week of the regular season an interesting one in the SEK.
    “Really important games for the standings,” Pittsburg head coach Mike Wilbert said. “We knew we had to sweep to give ourselves a chance. I thought Broc (Bennett) and Joe (Wimmer) threw well and we got some timely hits. Our defense has got so much better throughout the year that now we get defense, we get pitching and we get timely hitting. We’re in almost every ball game and good things happen.
    “They need to be happy. They did a great job tonight. We’ve put ourselves in position now but we need to take advantage of it. I’m super happy with the effort. These kids never quit.”
    Independence struck first in the opener with RBI singles by Zach Snodgrass and Easton Julian against Pittsburg starter Joe Wimmer.
    Pittsburg scored a run in the top of the second — Anthony McNeely led off the frame with a walk and later scored on a wild pitch by Independence starter Dustin Oliver. However, through five innings, Pittsburg had left seven runners on base and squandered a bases-loaded opportunity in the third.
    Trailing 2-1 in the sixth, Pittsburg broke on through with a five-run rally. Independence hurt itself, as McNeely reached on an error to start the frame and Oliver walked Bennett and Todd Keller to load the bases. Independence shortstop Dalton Shaffer then forced out McNeely at home on a Jornell Fondren groundball. The bases were still loaded with one out for Wimmer.
    Wimmer found a Oliver pitch he especially liked and took advantage of Independence center fielder Courtlan Hayes playing shallow. On top of his questionable defensive positioning, Hayes misjudged the fly ball and it rolled deep into the outfield. Bennett, Keller and Fondren made it around, emptying the bases, and Wimmer slid into third on the big hit Pittsburg needed.
    Wimmer later scored on an Independence error — its second of the inning — and Dylan Gromer plated Nick Vacca on a single.
    This offensive explosion gave Pittsburg momentum and it carried over into the defense as McNeely made a lunging catch in foul territory to close out the dramatic 6-3 first-game win.
    Pittsburg continued its timely hitting in the first inning of the nightcap — collecting two runs on four consecutive solid hits by Spencer Bernhardt, Vacca, Brandon Baker and Gromer. Bernhardt scored on a Vacca double and Vacca scored on a Baker single. Bernhardt and Gromer collected singles.
    Page 2 of 3 - Independence scored a run in the bottom of the fifth but Pittsburg collected on an insurance run in the seventh. Wimmer led off the inning with a single, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on another Baker single.
    “Big triple with Joe Wimmer and that run we added on in the seventh inning was huge in the second game,” Wilbert said. “We came out and scored two in the first and Broc makes that stand up. He makes that good and I’m sure Independence is going to do well this week so we have to hold serve. We’ve got four tough league games next week. We’re excited we have a chance.”
    Bennett allowed one run on six hits and one Pittsburg error. He struck out four Independence batters, including Snodgrass and Shaffer to close the sixth and Hayes to finish the game. Shaffer and Hayes both struck out looking. Bennett and Wimmer both earned complete-game victories; Independence senior T.J. Reed collected five of the Bulldogs’ 15 hits on the night.
    Pittsburg (9-5, 8-4 SEK) hosts Labette County on Tuesday.
    Note: Despite being played at JayCee Ballpark, home park of Pittsburg, both games counted Independence as home and Pittsburg as road. Wet grounds at Independence forced this doubleheader to be moved from Thursday to Friday and from Independence to Pittsburg.
    Pittsburg softball
    Times were tough Friday night for Pittsburg against Independence in their SEK League softball doubleheader at Cheryl Stice Field. The Bulldogs won the first game 10-0 and the second game 13-6.
    “If they say hitting is contagious, then I believe not hitting is contagious,” Pittsburg head coach Mary Packard said. “You’ve got to get some momentum going and they came out on fire. There’s no room for errors against a good team like Independence. We literally dropped the ball.”
    Pittsburg collected only five hits — all singles — against Independence freshman hurler Bayley Allison. Jordan Dee had two hits for Pittsburg.
    In the second game, Pittsburg enjoyed a little more offensive production, turning an early 6-0 deficit into a 6-6 score after plating five runs in the third and one run in the fourth.
    During that five-run third, Kylie Wilber led off with a walk and then came back-to-back bunt singles by Andie Casper and Mercedes Vogel. Wilber scored on a Megan Burdick single and Casper and Vogel scored on a hard-hit Alaura Short double into the outfield. Short would score on a Dee single and Lizzy Willis scored on a Bethanne Elliott sacrifice fly.
    In the fourth, Casper reached on a single and later scored on a Short single. Short drove in three runs during her 2-for-4 second game. Burdick went 4-4 with four singles, Casper 2-4 and Dee 2-2.
    Page 3 of 3 - However, Independence scored the final seven runs of the game for the sweep. Senior slugger Morgan Dodson went 3-for-3, all three hits doubles and her extra-base hits drove in six runs, producing as many runs herself as Pittsburg. Independence produced more run-scoring extra-base hits.
    “We had hits,” Packard said, “but we didn’t have powerful hits like they did which hurt us. They found a lot of gaps.”
    Independence moved to 13-5 overall and 9-5 in the SEK. Pittsburg dropped to 8-10 and 6-8. The Grizzlies of Labette County — undefeated at 18-0 and 14-0 — have already clinched a SEK League title.
    Game One
    Pittsburg baseball 6, Independence 3
    PHS    010 005 0 — 6 9 2
    INDY    200 001 0 — 3 9 5
    Joe Wimmer and Dylan Gromer. Dustin Oliver, Dalton Coda (6) and Easton Julian. WP: Wimmer. LP: Oliver. 3B: Wimmer. CS: Wimmer, Spencer Bernhardt. LOB: PHS 11, INDY 9.
    Game Two
    Pittsburg 3, Independence 1
    PHS    200 000 1 — 3 8 1
    INDY    000 010 X — 1 8 1
    Broc Bennett and Dylan Gromer. Dalton Shaffer and Easton Julian. WP: Bennett. LP: Shaffer. 2B: Nick Vacca. SH: Bennett; Courtlan Hayes. SB: T.J. Reed. CS: Zach Snodgrass. LOB: PHS 8, INDY 5.
    Game One
    Independence softball 10, Pittsburg 0
    PHS    000 000 0 — 0
    INDY    003 250 X — 10
    WP: Bayley Allison.
    Game Two
    Independence 13, Pittsburg 6
    PHS    005 100 0 —  6
    INDY    240 214 X — 13
    WP: Shelby Corn.
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