Bluejay sweep keeps Tabor in KCAC baseball race

Tabor College first baseman Cameron Pope puts the tag on a McPherson baserunner during a pick-off attempt, but not in time to record an out during the Bluejays’ 11-6 win in Game 1 of Tabor’s Friday doubleheader. Tabor went on to win the nightcap on Friday and then completed the three-game sweep on Sunday afternoon.The Tabor baseball team took care of business despite blustery winds as they swept a three-game series against the McPherson Bulldogs.

The Bluejays won both ends of the Friday’s doubleheader, 11-6 and 7-2, then came back Sunday to complete the weather-interrupted series with a late come-from-behind 4-3 win.

The sweep keeps Tabor within reach of KCAC leader Oklahoma Wesleyan, and at the worst, keeps them tied for the second seed with Friends, whom they’ll meet next week.

On Friday, barely a handful of pitches into Game 1, the Bluejays found themselves on the short side of a 2-0 score, courtesy of a two-run home run from Domi­nick Ramos after Trevor Haycock walked to start the game.

Bluejay right-hander Nathan Arruda settled down for the next couple of innings as Tabor’s offense began to find its rhythm and eventually staking him to a 7-2 lead after three innings.

A sacrifice fly and a double in the second inning tied the score, and a Freddy Walker two-run homer highlighted a five-run third inning that saw Tabor send nine men to the plate.

McPherson hit another two-run homer in the fourth to close the gap, but Tabor responded with a Jaxson Hooge double, his second of the game, to reclaim one of the two runs lost.

A bases-loaded, nobody-out situation in the seventh could have gone bad for the Bluejays, but Darrick Watts struck out two Bulldogs before yielding a two-run double. Fortunately, Watts was able to slam the door shut with a ground out back to the mound and leaving Tabor leading, 8-6 lead.

Will Clark hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth to give Tabor breathing room and the final score of the game. Cameron Pope went 3-for-4 to pace the Bluejay attack, while Clark’s four RBIs led the team.

Game 2 saw Mitchell McIntyre throw a six-inning gem, giving up just four hits and one unearned run, while striking out seven. Tommy Sleva came on to pitch the seventh, and struck out the side, but not before surrendering a solo home run to Hay­cock.

Hooge went 3-for-3 in Game 2, while Walker collected two doubles to pace the Bluejays’ 11-hit attack.

McPherson returned to Hillsboro on Sunday afternoon to complete the weather-interrupted three-game series, but the Bluejays prevailed, 4-3, with a dramatic comeback in the bottom of the ninth.

The game turned quickly into a pitching duel between Tabor ace Brandon Whet­night and McPherson’s Javier Saenz. Whetnight allowed only one run over seven innings and Saenz allowed only one run through 8.1 innings.

With the score tied at 1-1 heading into the ninth, the Bulldogs manufactured a pair of runs against Hayden Wheeler and Sleva to take a 3-1 lead with Tabor coming up for last bats.

Jaden Alsop flied out to begin the inning, but Sammy Silva came on board with an infield single. After Abdiel Alicea walked, Freddy Walker singled to load the bases.

Hooge then doubled down the left-field line to score Silva and Alicea to tie the game. After a walk to Graham Wiebe, Cameron Pope delivered a fly ball deep enough to left-center to enable Walker to sprint home with the winning run.

Sleva gained the pitching win as the Bluejays improved to 19-5 in the KCAC and 28-14 overall.

The Bluejays’ next outing will be a three-game series with Friends University. It begins with a 4 p.m. single game Friday followed by a doubleheader Satur­day starting at 1 p.m. in Law­rence Dumont Stadium, Wichita. —Tabor College

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