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Baseball Dragons Clinch Jayhawk West Title with Milestone Win

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By Hutchinson CC Sports Information

GREAT BEND, Kan. (BlueDragonSports.com) – The Hutchinson Community College baseball team accomplished many things in its 7-2 victory in Game 1 of a four-game Jayhawk West series with the Barton Cougars on Wednesday at Lawson-Biggs Field.

First, and foremost, the Blue Dragons clinched the 2024 Jayhawk West championship, the program’s first since 2021 and 13th overall in the 50-year history of the program. Combined with the conference-clinching win was:

+ The Blue Dragons clinched their first 40-win season since 2019 and 10th 40-win season overall;

+ First-year head coach Brock Nehls joins Gene Torczon and Kyle Crookes as Blue Dragon head coaches to win a conference championship in their first season (Torczon in 1975 and Crookes in 2005);

+ Nehls also became the first Blue Dragon head coach to win 40 games in his first season;

+ The Blue Dragons earned their 1,500th all-time victory.

+ With two stolen bases, Blue Dragon sophomore centerfielder Kael Babin broke the Blue Dragon single-season record for stolen bases with his 48th and 49th steals of the season, surpassing Nick Thigpen’s 2003 record of 48. Babin also had two steals in the second game to become the first Blue Dragon to reach 50 steals in a season.

The Blue Dragons and Cougars split the opening two games of the series on Wednesday – the series was pushed up a day because of forecast severe weather in central Kansas on Thursday. Barton rallied from eight runs down to defeat Hutchinson 10-9 in nine innings in Game 2.

Hutchinson is now 40-11 overall and 25-5 in the Jayhawk West. Barton is now 33-17 overall and 15-11 in the Jayhawk West. The final two games of the series are scheduled for Friday at 1 and 3:30 p.m. at Hobart-Detter Field.

GAME 1 RECAP – Hutchinson 7, Barton 2

BOX SCORE

Sophomore starting pitcher Ethan Giesbrecht became the first Blue Dragon nine-game winner in a season since Kyle Simonds won 13 games in 2014 with five solid innings of shutout ball.

Giesbrecht (9-2) allowed just one hit and walked two with four strikeouts over his five innings. He allowed two walks in the first inning and a single-inning single before retiring the final 11 Barton batters he faced, closing his outing with back-to-back strikeouts in the fifth inning.

Giesbrecht was backed offensively with a six-run third inning. The Blue Dragons broke the scoreless tie when Luis Pimentel-Guerrero hit a three-run home run to left-center for a 3-0 lead. Four batters later, after the Dragons loaded the bases, Cooper Wesslund hit a three-run double to right-center to give the Blue Dragons a 6-0 lead.

After the Cougars scored two runs in the sixth inning, the Dragons got one of those runs back with a Cody Gunderson RBI single in the seventh inning for a five-run cushion.

The Blue Dragons out-hit Barton 7-5.

Babin and Colin Cymbalista had two hits each to lead Hutchinson.

Babin tied Thigpen’s stolen base record with a steal in the first inning and broke the record with a seventh-inning steal. Cymbalista had two doubles.

GAME 2 RECAP – Barton 10, Hutchinson 9 (10 innings)

BOX SCORE

Cymbalista’s eighth home run of the season to lead off the seventh inning gave the Blue Dragons a 9-1 lead, but Barton mounted a furious comeback with nine unanswered runs to rally to defeat the Dragons in 10 innings.

Barton scored two runs in the seventh, tied the game with six runs in the eighth and won the game with a sacrifice fly in the 10th.

Babin led the Blue Dragons’ 12-hit attack, going 4 for 5 with two doubles, two runs and two stolen bases.

Cymbalista was 2 for 4 with three RBIs. Wesslund was 2 for 4 with a double, run scored and a stolen base. Pimentel-Guerrero was 2 for 5 with two RBIs.

Barton had 10 hits and took advantage of two Dragon errors and a season-high eight walks by four Blue Dragon pitchers.

Landon Snyder (0-1) took the loss for the Dragons. Cole Toureau worked 4 2-3 innings in his first start for the season. He allowed just one run and one hit with four strikeouts.

GAME NOTES – With eight stolen bases in the doubleheader, the 2024 Blue Dragons are now second in team history with 184 steals. The Dragons are five stolen bases away from the team record of 188 set in 2010. … Now with 28 hit-by-pitches this season, Cody Gunderson moves into No. 2 on the single-season HBP list. Blake Bradford is sixth win 21. … The Dragons extend their record number being hit with pitches to 158.