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Neill’s Gritty Performance Helps Baseball Dragons Advance Again

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Hutchinson CC Sports Information

WICHITA (BlueDragonSports.com) – Hutchinson Community College sophomore starting pitcher Bradley Neillbecame the Blue Dragons’ second 10-game winner on Friday at a key moment in the No. 10-ranked Blue Dragons season late Friday night at Eck Stadium.

Neill pitched a gritty career-long 8 2-3 innings to keep the Blue Dragons’ season alive after an 8-6 victory over the Cowley Tigers in the Plains District (Region 6) Tournament elimination bracket third round.

The Blue Dragons (49-12) will meet 10th-seed Barton in the Elimination Bracket finals at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The Hutchinson/Barton winner will play top-seeded Johnson County in the Plains District championship game at 4 p.m. A second championship game, if needed, will be at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Eck Stadium.

Both teams were playing their second elimination games of the day on Friday. The Blue Dragons outlasted Kansas City 9-8 on a walk-off double by Blake Bradford. Cowley eliminated Butler 15-14 in the 10 a.m. game.


BLUE DRAGON BASEBALL

No. 2 Hutchinson (49-12) vs. No. 10 Barton (41-20)
Plains District Tournament – Elimination Bracket Final
When: Saturday, May 18, 2024
Where: Eck Stadium, Wichita, KS
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Video: KJCCC Network (Pay-Per-View), 12:55 p.m.
X: @bluedraognsport
Winner plays No. 1 Johnson County in Championship Game at 4 p.m. Saturday

Neill’s final pitching line wasn’t pretty – nine hits, six runs, two strikeouts and two walks. But his career highs of 8 2-3 innings and 135 pitches – Neill started and threw two innings against Dodge City on Friday – were signs of a pitcher carrying his team.

Neill was touched for one run in the first and two in the second to give Cowley a 3-1 lead at that point. The Tigers added a fourth run in the fifth inning that tied the game at four.

Neill (10-0) had four innings were he faced the minimum, retiring the Tigers in order in the third, fourth and eighth innings. He gave up a leadoff single in the seventh, but got a line-drive double play to second baseman Hank Griffin and a groundout to end the seventh.

Cowley started getting to Neill in the ninth, scoring two runs to pull the Tigers within 8-6. Landen Snyder came into the game and got Cade Baldridge to fly out to Jon Davis to end the game.

Every time the Tigers scored on Friday, the Blue Dragons had an offensive answer.

After Cowley took a 1-0 lead in the first, Kael Babin scored on an RBI groundout from Luis Pimentel-Guerrero to tie the game at 1-1.

Down 3-1 in the bottom of the second, the Dragons pulled within one run when Blake Bradford scored on a Griffin infield single.

Hutchinson took a 4-3 lead with a two-run fourth inning. Babin forced in a run with a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch and Griffin scored when Pimentel-Guerrero rolled into a double play.

The Blue Dragons took a 5-4 lead on a Bradford RBI triple to right-center. Then scored three huge insurance runs when Pimentel-Guerrero hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to build an 8-4 lead.

Pimentel-Guerrero was only 1 for 5, but had four RBIs to lead the Dragons, who out-hit Cowley 12-9.

Bradford went 3 for 4 with a triple, two runs and an RBI. Griffin and Jon Davis had two hits each.

POSTGAME NOTES:
+ The Blue Dragons extend their single-season record for wins to 49.

+ Kael Babin was hit with pitches in his first three plate appearances against Cowley and was drilled with pitches for total times between the two games.

+ This is the second time in Blue Dragon history to win both game on a Friday elimination day. Back in 2019, the Dragons defeated Cloud County and Barton, both games coming on walk-off victories.