The Pittsburg baseball team evened its record at 5-5 with a doubleheader sweep Friday night of the Columbus Titans, 13-12 and 5-2, at Al Ortolani Field on the campus of Pittsburg State.
In the opener, Pittsburg jumped ahead 8-2 with a first-inning explosion of eight runs on seven hits and one Columbus error.
Columbus starter Matt Harris faced 14 batters and four of the first six hit doubles — leadoff man Spencer Bernhardt, No. 3 Dante Richardson, No. 5 Todd Keller and No. 6 Drake Markley. Nick Vacca, Richardson, Keller and Markley picked up RBI with hits, Vacca picked up a second RBI when he was hit-by-pitch with the sacks full and Bernhardt scored two runs.
Columbus slowly worked their way back into the game, helped out by a five-run fourth. Pittsburg committed four errors in the inning, all on routine plays.
The Titans gained the lead in the top of the seventh with a three-run rally. Nate Bole delivered a game-tying two-run double and then scored the go-ahead run on a Trey Robinson RBI single. Markley came on in relief and sat down Kendal Hale and Garrett Brittain on strikes to keep the game 12-11.
Fortunately for Pittsburg, Bernhardt, Vacca and Richardson were due up in the seventh and
they came through with three consecutive hits. End of game. Bernhardt led off with a double, Vacca tied it up with a single plating Bernhardt and after Vacca moved his way over to third on a stolen base and throwing error by the catcher, Richardson singled Vacca in for the win.
“Rebounding from Tuesday (two losses to Coffeyville) and after (Columbus) comes out and takes the lead, it would have been very easy to shut it down but our two seniors at the top of the order did a good job, Spencer with leading off and Nick getting him driven in, then Dante coming in and doing a good job finishing it off,” Pittsburg head coach Keith Matlock said.
Bernhardt and Vacca both thrived against Harris and Columbus reliever Aaron Bigando. Bernhardt went 3-for-4 with three runs scored, two doubles and one RBI and Vacca delivered his own 3-4 with two runs scored, four stolen bases and three RBI, responsible for the game-tying RBI and the game-winning run.
“When those two are on base for us, it’s a difference maker because they get some movement going and they put some pressure on the defense,” Matlock said. “They get in scoring position for Dante and Anthony (McNeely) to drive them in. Tonight, I felt we did a good job of that.”
Richardson and Keller each drove in two for the Dragon attack, which collected 14 hits after some offensive struggles against Coffeyville.
Pittsburg seemed to build off its momentum in the nightcap and the defense settled down behind senior pitcher Dylan Crozier, who pitched three innings of no-hit ball until Robinson led off the fourth with a double.
Page 2 of 3 - “That was the team I was expecting in game one,” Matlock said. “I was happy for them because Tuesday we had errors like that in game one and we talked to them on Wednesday about staying positive and responding and focusing for 14 innings. It was good to see them put that stuff behind them from game one and come out in game two and do a good job.”
Pittsburg returns to action today at 2 p.m. with a varsity/JV doubleheader against Nevada, Mo. Matlock hopes the momentum from Friday carries on forward into a nonleague road game.
“That’s what we talk about,” Matlock said. “We’re back to .500. We played really well the second game. Dylan Crozier pitched his tail off the second game and did a good job of keeping us in the ballgame the whole time. Hopefully, we’ll build off it and go into Nevada and play well.”
Pittsburg knocked on the door during its doubleheader Friday night against Columbus at the PSU Softball Complex but could not deliver enough of the big hits during two losses, 5-2 and 7-6.
“The theme of the night was that we had people on and we left way too many runners on base,” Pittsburg head coach Mary Packard said. “A lot of our routine plays went right tonight.”
Pittsburg scored its two runs in the fourth and the sixth in the opener. Mercedes Vogel walked, stole second, stole third and scored on an Alaura Short RBI in the fourth. Bethanne Elliott reached on an error in the sixth and scored after consecutive singles by Kylie Wilber and Megan Webb.
Andie Casper connected for three hits in four at-bats.
In the nightcap, Pittsburg jumped on top with two first-inning runs. Casper and Katy Short reached; Casper scored on an Alaura Short single and Katy Short came in on a Wilber sacrifice bunt.
Pittsburg held a 2-1 lead until the sixth when Columbus put up a six number.
The PSU Softball Complex reached a fever pitch during the bottom of the seventh with Pittsburg down 7-2.
Casper led off the frame with a single, Vogel doubled, Alaura Short doubled home both Vogel and Casper, Elliott doubled in Short and Wilber singled home Elliott for a 7-6 score but the Dragons could not push across the game-tying and game-winning runs with two outs left.
“The top of our order is hitting the ball really well right now,” Packard said. “We’re still trying to find the right combinations. We’re looking to finish the last eight games of the (regular) season on the right note.”
Pittsburg (3-9) hosts Riverton on Tuesday.
Pittsburg baseball 13, Columbus 12
Page 3 of 3 - COL 201 510 3 — 12 8 5
PHS 802 100 2 — 13 14 6
Matt Harris, Aaron Bigando (3) and Kendal Hale. Spencer Bernhardt, James Clark (5), Drake Markley (7) and Todd Keller, Patrick Biggs (7). WP: Markley. LP: Bigando. E: Javohn Morrill 3, Trey Robinson, Hale; Dylan Crozier 2, Nick Vacca 2, Lukas Redd, James Clark. 2B: Hale, Nate Bole; Bernhardt 2, Dante Richardson, Keller, Markley. SF: Mason Bass. SH: Morrill 2. SB: Bole, Brendon Billesbach, Morrill; Vacca 4, Anthony McNeely. CS: Shane Moore. HBP: Vacca. LOB: COL 7, PHS 7.
Pittsburg 5, Columbus 2
COL 000 020 0 — 2 6 2
PHS 020 300 X — 5 6 0
Aaron Bigando, Javohn Morrill (2) and Kendal Hale. Dylan Crozier, Ryan McNeely (7) and Patrick Biggs. WP: Crozier. LP: Bigando. E: Bigando, Hale. 2B: Trey Robinson; Drake Markley, Dante Richardson, Todd Keller. SF: Richardson, Tanner Ellis. SH: Morrill. SB: Anthony McNeely 2, Spencer Bernhardt 2, Biggs, Nick Vacca.
Columbus softball 5, Pittsburg 2
Columbus 7, Pittsburg 6