The Pittsburg Purple Dragons erased an early three-run deficit in the first inning to overcome the Carl Junction Bulldogs 14-4 in a game that ended in six innings at Jaycee Park.
"I thought we came out and struggled in the first two innings but then settled down and Dante (Richardson) threw a great first baseball game for us," said head coach Keith Matlock.
With the game at 12-4 in the bottom of the sixth, Evan Owen went up to bat for just the second time this season with a chance to end the game and the bases loaded. Turns out, he only needed one hit to end the game as his grounder led to a double run and the Purple Dragons finished the game with the ten-run win.
"It was only my second at bat of the season," Owen said. "Last time I struck out and i didn't want to do that again so I was looking for a pitch that i could drive in and thankfully, I did."
It was the first pitch hit of the season for Pittsburg.
"It was awesome. We've been looking to give Evan some time," Matlock said. "We know he comes to practice and he works hard every day and it paid off for him. He got to get into that situation and get a big hit and a game winner."
Dante Richardson was the winning pitcher for the Purple Dragons while Ryan Devore and Ethan Hatfield both shared the mound for the Bulldogs.
In the bottom of the first, the Purple Dragons were only one strike away from the end of the inning until Anthony McNeely's hit got him on base to keep the inning alive. A grounder by Todd Keller, enabled Nick Vacca to score and Richardson followed it up with a grounder to centerfield which brought in McNeely in for the run.
After a stolen third base, Ethan Wingo scored a run off a hit by Nathan Landes that went deep into left field, just narrowly avoiding the foul line and giving the Bulldogs their last run of the night.
A hit by Dylan Crozier bounced right next to the foul line but was a fair ball that allowed James Clark to score to narrow the deficit to one. The Purple Dragons loaded the bases and soon Crozier and McNeely came home off a double run to put Pittsburg in front.
A hit by Keller went into right field for a Vacca run. A pitching error enabled McNeely to score. The Purple Dragons ended the second with a 7-4 lead.
"At the plate, we had everybody taking great approaches and were ready to hit," Matlock said. "A lot of situational things and hit the ball hard all night long and i was happy about the way we played in game one."
Page 2 of 2 - Pittsburg finished the night with 13 hits.
After 11 combined runs from both teams in the first two innings, the third saw no runs or hits as both defenses seemed to get under control.
The Purple Dragons would add two more runs in the fourth and fifth respectively, before another five-run inning was enough to end the game early because of the run rule.
The Bulldogs tried to answer back but the Purple Dragons would not allow it. Hatfield hit a high ball into centerfield but Spencer Barnhardt made the out in the fifth.
A run from Vacca extended the lead and with the bases loaded, Richardson went up to bat. His hit brought in McNeely to make it 11-4. Drake Markley was walked to first and the bases were loaded again with Crozier up to bat. He too was walked and the Purple Dragons added another run before Bowen's game clinching hit.
The Pittsburg junior varsity squad wasted no time in taking over the Bulldogs, racing out to a five-run lead in the first and then added four more in the second to build a 9-1 advantage.
There were five runs by the Purple Dragons in the first inning off a only one hit.
Sage Mahnken was the winning pitcher for the Purple Dragons while Blake Ewing started for the Bulldogs but was replaced by Brandon Harnar in the fourth. Derek Brumbaugh went in to replace Mahnken in the fourth as well.
The Bulldogs made a late comeback attempt, scoring six runs in the fourth off only two hits. But it would not be enough for the come from behind win.
"I thought we lost focus there when we led 9-1," said Matlock. "We kind of put our minds on cruise control and so we talked to the boys about that after the game that we've got to focus for five innings and do those things."
A run by Carl Junction in the top of the fifth was enough to give the Purple Dragons a bit of a worry before Pittsburg was able to end the game. Matlock was just happy to give the younger kids on the team more time to play with inclement weather in recent weeks forcing postponements.
"They're young kids still learning how to play the game and they haven't had a whole lot of field time due to the weather," Matlock said. "But that'll come and they're still learning and we came out and did what we needed to win."
The Purple Dragons had six hits while the Bulldogs had five.