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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

KCK sweeps Greyhounds in weekend series

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fort Scott shortstop Reyn Sugai (2) prevents a pickoff throw from going to the outfield during the first game of Sunday's doubleheader versus Kansas City Kansas at Lions Field.
(Scott Nuzum/Tribune)
The struggles of the Fort Scott Community College baseball team in conference play continued over the weekend as Jayhawk Conference-Eastern Division co-leader Kansas City Kansas swept a four-game series at Lions Field Saturday and Sunday.

Kansas City (10-2 East, 13-8 overall) took Saturday's games 8-0 in 11 innings and 7-5 in eight innings. Sunday, the Blue Devils posted 7-4 and 1-0 victories.

The Greyhounds (1-11, 14-12), tied for last place in the East with Independence, went 12-1 in pre-conference play, shutting out their opponent six times. Their non-conference opposition was not a significant step down from the conference. Crowder, with which the 'Hounds split, is often a national power and head coach John Hill III feels that Southeast Nebraska and Muscatine would each hold their own in the Jayhawk Conference.

Fort Scott lefty Joey Parrack allowed just one unearned run in seven innings of work in the second game but the Greyhounds were unable to score themselves in a 1-0 loss that completed a four-game sweep for the visiting Blue Devils.
"It's all mental," Hill says. "Our non-conference schedule was very good. We've had one JV team. If we had played 10 JV teams ... the teams we played non-conference were very good in preparation. We just had that first (conference) weekend where we lost three one-run games and had everything go wrong. And that hurt our egos a little bit and we have not made the adjustment back to have the confidence to have everything go right and even when it does go wrong to keep pushing through it."

The opening weekend of conference play, March 3 and 4, the Greyhounds went to Allen and were swept. They lost three of those games by one run and they've lost three other conference games by one run. Fort Scott has also been shut out six times.

Only the top eight teams in the East qualify for the Region VI Tournament but there are six conference series remaining in the season against teams that have a combined winning percentage of .474.

Hill feels that the game of baseball "evens itself out" and that it's up to the players now to get things going back to how they were before conference play started.

"If you respect the game and if you respect yourself enough, it will got the other way if you work hard enough and do the right things," Hill said.

The current struggles may be partially attributable to the youth and inexperience of the team. There are several freshman starters and a few of the sophomores did not have extensive playing time last season.

"We have a lot of guys in the field who didn't play last year or who were freshmen coming in and they haven't responded real well to that," Hill said. "So, it's new for them even though they're our starters. But we need them to respond much better.

"(Saturday), we had 19 innings and 17 of those were tremendous baseball. And we had three times with the bases loaded, less than two outs and we didn't get it done. We squeezed. We safety squeezed. We've tried to manufacture runs but that hasn't worked on a great scale. We've tried to just let them bat them in. We just haven't got the job done in very important situations."

Game one on Sunday saw KCK take a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. But Fort Scott responded as Cody Ball reached base on a 2-out error and Cole Fergus drove him in with a double to the center-field fence.

The 'Hounds took the lead in the fourth. Fergus reached via error to lead off the inning. Cody McNeece doubled with one out and scored himself when Caden Cleveland reached on another error.

John Morey traded places with Cleveland on a fielder's choice, then stole second. He scored on Cody Parks' single to left to make it 4-1.

KCK reclaimed the lead in the fifth, scoring six runs on 3 hits and 2 errors off three Fort Scott pitchers.

Fergus went 2 for 4 for the Greyhounds while McNeece was 2 for 3. KCK pitcher Jesse Foulk allowed 1 earned run on 6 hits and 1 walk while striking out 2 in a complete-game effort.

David Richards was the only Blue Devil with 2 hits in the opener. KCK won despite committing 4 errors.

Game two was one of uncapitalized scoring opportunities for both teams. Kansas City had 2 hits in the top of the first but were unable to score as Poncho Amaya was thrown out at the plate for the third out of the inning, attempting to score when the relay was bobbled. KCK also led off the third with back-to-back singles and had the runners on second and third after a sacrifice bunt. But Greyhound left-hander Joey Parrack struck out Jacob Woods and got Amayo to fly out to center.

KCK scored its run, unearned, in the sixth. Woods led off the inning and reached on an error. Amayo singled and Richards bunted the runners over. Dean Long's sacrifice fly to center brought Woods home.

The 'Hounds had chances to tie the score. Ball singled with one out in the bottom of the sixth but Fergus batted into an inning-ending double play. Beau Phillips doubled with one out in the seventh and got to third on Joe Hermsen's ground out. But a fly out to left ended the game.

Parrack allowed 7 hits and struck out 4 as he threw a complete game.

"You couldn't ask for more in game four, especially after (Saturday) and the first game (Sunday)," Hill said. "That's something we saw consistently from him last year. And it's kind of been on and off this year and we need him to be consistent like that all time time because when we do get it figured out and he can pitch like that, we can be pretty good."

KCK's Dylan Donley allowed 4 hits and 1 walk as he also tossed a complete game. Phillips had 2 of Fort Scott's hits.

The Greyhounds will go to Johnson County Friday and Saturday as they look to climb of out the cellar in conference play. Each day's doubleheader is set to begin at 1 p.m.

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