Brian Skillman works six clutch innings in a spot start as the Blue Dragons rally for a split with Cloud County on Friday, winning Game 2 6-3 after dropping the opener 9-7 on Thursday. (Bre Rogers/Blue Dragon Sports Information)
Brian Skillman works six clutch innings in a spot start as the Blue Dragons rally for a split with Cloud County on Friday, winning Game 2 6-3 after dropping the opener 9-7 on Thursday. (Bre Rogers/Blue Dragon Sports Information)

Hutchinson CC Sports Information

CONCORDIA – After seeing its Jayhawk West lead trimmed to one game after a late Game 1 loss on Thursday, the Hutchinson Community College baseball team was in need of some clutch efforts in the second game at Cloud County.

The Blue Dragons got just such efforts from freshman Brian Skillman and sophomores Max McGuire and Riley Metzger as Hutchinson scored four runs in the ninth inning for a 6-3 victory in Game 2 to even the series at one game each. Cloud County scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth to capture the first game, 9-7.

Now 37-17 overall, the Blue Dragons lead the Jayhawk West by one game over Butler at 21-9. Butler swept Garden City on Thursday. The final two games of the series and the regular season will be Saturday. Time and location will be determined on Friday. Garden City will travel to Butler on Saturday.

Thursday's games were supposed to be played at Hobart-Detter Field, but Hutchinson's home field was unplayable with all the rain this week. The games were then scheduled to be played at McPherson College, but overnight rain on Thursday left that field unplayable, so the teams flipped home sites and moved to Doyen Field in Concordia.

Tied at 2-all heading into the ninth, McGuire hit a 3-1 pitch for a leadoff home run to left field to give the Dragons their third lead of the game. The Dragons also led 1-0 and 2-1. The Dragons picked up a big insurance run with a two-out RBI double by Zane Schmidt that plated Logan Sartori. On the very next pitch, Metzger hit a two-run home right to right-center to give the Blue Dragons a 6-2 lead.

Before the ninth-inning heroics, Skillman make sure the Blue Dragons had their shot in the final inning.

Skillman got a spot start in Game 2, which was also his first start in a conference series. He allowed a two-out home run in the third inning to tie the game at 1. He then allowed a two-out RBI single in the fifth to knot the game at 2-all.

The Blue Dragon freshman also made some huge pitches to keep the Thunderbirds off the board. After allowing back-to-back leadoff singles to start the second, Skillman got a strikeout and coaxed a pair of pop-ups to end the threat. After a pair of walks in the fourth, Skillman got a fly ball out to end that inning.

Skillman worked a season-high six innings throwing 99 pitches. He scattered seven hits and gave up two runs and one walk while striking out five.

Cade Fenton (1-1) worked 2 1-3 innings out of the bullpen to earn his first pitching victory of the season. He gave up one run on a couple of walks and struck out two without allowing a hit. Dylan Nedved picked up his second save of the season with to fly ball outs to end the game.

Metzger led Hutchinson's 10-hit attack, going 3 for 5 with a double and his seventh home run of the season. McGuire was 2 for 4 with two RBIs with his fifth home run of the season. Zion Bowlin had Hutch's other multi-hit game, going 2 for 4 with an RBI.

The Blue Dragons to a 1-0 lead when Bowlin singled home Ryan Moritz in the second inning. They regained the lead at 2-1 in the top of the fourth when McGuire singled home Will Reetz.

The Blue Dragons trailed 7-3 after Cloud County chased Hutch starter Miguel Reyes Jr. Hutch battled back to tie the game with a single-run in the fifth and a three-run sixth capped by Nedved's opposite-field two-run double into the right-field corner.

Cloud County answered with a pair of two-out RBI hits to give the Thunderbirds a 9-7 lead. The Dragons got a pair of runners in the top of the seventh, but couldn't complete the comeback. Ryan Summers (7-3) was strapped with the loss.

The Blue Dragons scored single runs in each of the first three innings. Nedved led off the third with his eight home run of the season for a 3-2 lead after 2 1-2 innings. The Thunderbirds then struck for five runs in the bottom of the third, sending nine batters to the plate.

Reyes lasted 2 2-3 innings. He struck out four, but gave up six hits, seven earned runs and four walks.

L.J. McDonough worked 1-3 inning, Matt Hopkins worked two scoreless innings with two strikeouts. Summers worked the sixth with three hits, two runs and a walk with three strikeouts.

The Blue Dragons had eight total hits and were out-hit 10-8.

Nedved was 2 for 3 with three RBIs and a run scored. Sartori was 2 for 4 with two doubles. Schmidt hit his league-leading 20th home run of the season. He is now alone in second place on Hutchinson's single-season home run list.