Tabor baseball sets record for wins in season

After completing a four-game series sweep of Friends Satur?day in Wichita and setting a Tabor baseball record for wins in a season, Tabor (32-17, 16-8) will enter the KCAC conference tournament in as the No. 2 seed.

Ottawa (27-16, 17-7) finished as the KCAC regular-season champion, taking three of four from St. Mary in its final series.

Tabor finished its final week 6-0, sweeping Manhattan Christian College 9-3 and 11-3 Monday in Manhattan, edging Friends Thursday 5-4 and 10-9, then beating Friends again Saturday, 7-3 and 12-4.

Wes Stancher (4-2) was the Game 1 winner against Man?hattan, Nicholas Reif (4-1) won Game 2. Stancher went five innings, allowing four hits, one run and striking out three. Reif pitched six innings, striking out three and allowing three runs and hits.

Taylor Douglas went 5-for-6 with six runs batted in and six runs scored.

Going into its final KCAC series in third place and two games out of first, Tabor needed a sweep of Friends for a shot at the KCAC title.

Tied 9-9 with the Falcons in the bottom of eighth in Game 2 in Hillsboro, Paul Bridenbaugh ended the game with a single that scored Dustin Dick. Dick began the inning with a single and reached third on a Tyson Kendrick single.

Tabor tied the game 9-9 in the bottom of the sixth with a lead-off home run by Dick. Dick was 4-for-4 in Game 2 with three RBIs and four runs scored.

Jonathon Murray (3-2) won Game 1, throwing six innings, striking out nine and allowing no runs on five hits.

On Saturday, Friends played Tabor close in both games but big innings from the Bluejays secured the series sweep and second place in the KCAC.

In Game 1, Tabor scored three runs in the top of the fifth for a 5-3 lead. Two insurance runs in the sixth and seventh widened the margin.

Down 2-1 in Game 2, Tabor scored eight runs in the top of the fourth to break open the ball game. Friends scored two in the bottom of the sixth to avoid a run-rule-shortened game. Tabor ended the scoring with a run in the seventh.

The big inning was started by a single by Stevenson that scored Jayme Regier. After Andrew Cook scored on a passed ball and Regier scored on a Friends error, Douglas was driven home by Kendrick to make the score 5-2.

Dick then scored courtesy of an RBI single by Nathan Rausch.

Tabor resumed it offensive display, scoring three more runs in the inning. Ryan Boucher scored one on an RBI single by Stevenson. Cook drove in the final runs of the inning by knocking home Rausch and Bridenbaugh.

The Bluejays built late-season momentum with the six-game winning streak.

?We?ve been taking quality at-bats, everybody has,? Kendrick said. ?The pitching staff has been right on, throwing strikes and everything. What?s important is we need to ride our momentum going into the tournament and keep going.?

For the second consecutive season, the Bluejays will play in the five-team double-elimination tournament. Tabor will play No. 3 Kansas Wesleyan (29-16, 16-8) 11 a.m. Thursday at Rathert Stadium in Junction City. The Bluejays and Coyotes split in the regular season, 2-2.

?Of the five teams going there, any one of them can win it,? coach Mark Standiford said. ?We?re going to face very good pitching in that tournament. Everybody is going to be feeling their best.?

With many players having played in the KCAC tournament in 2009, the Bluejays hope the experience will help them.

?Last year our goal was just to get there,? Standiford said. ?This year obviously we want to come out and win the conference. Our goal now is to advance out of this tournament.?

The winner of the KCAC tournament receives an automatic bid to the NAIA national tournament.

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