Before Saturday’s doubleheader against crosstown rival William Chrisman, Truman head coach Corey Lathrom envisioned a perfect scenario about how both games would go.
He wanted his No. 1 pitcher Alex Khan and No. 2 Kyler Barnett to both throw complete games to preserve the arms of the rest of the pitching staff.
That’s exactly what happened as the duo both notched complete-game efforts in a 11-4 win in Game 1 and a 14-1 Game 2 six-inning, mercy rule win.
“I don’t want to say these are games we expect to win, but we hope to get to a point where we win games like this on a consistent basis,” Lathrom said. “We’ve played really good baseball this year, but we’ve struggled to get out of an inning with two outs.
“Our pitchers have been much better as of late. We got the exact performance we wanted from both guys. They are our No. 1 and 2 guys and they proved it tonight.”
Barnett said he had extra motivation to go the distance in Game 1 as he was the losing pitcher to the Bears last season. He responded to last year’s loss with four strikeouts in seven innings, while allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits in a quality start.
“We took a tough loss here last year in a game that went to the wire,” Barnett said. “I am the guy who saw a couple of runs come in on me late. It felt good to get a start. I wanted this. This was the result we expected last year, and we proved it this year.
“I don’t have blow-it-by-you stuff like Alex over here. I feel like a throw with enough movement and a trust my guys to make plays when I put it in (the strike zone).”
In Game 1, the Bears took a 1-0 lead in the first after Matthew Miller reached on a walk, stole second, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a groundout by Jordan Mabie.
Truman scored four runs in the third inning and three in the fourth to take control.
Chrisman scored one in the bottom of the fifth to make it 7-2, but Truman put it away with four runs in the final two innings, which included an RBI double and a sacrifice fly from Braeden Schramm, RBI singles by Miller and Mabie capped the scoring for Chrisman.
Schramm was 3-for-4 with three RBIs; Josh Patrick was 2-for-5 with three RBIs and Nate Camby was 3-for-5 with two RBis for the Patriots.
In Game 2, Alex Khan struggled with his control but found a way to be wildly effective. The big right-hander went six innings and allowed just one run on four hits, walked six and struck out seven. He allowed a base runner in every inning, but figured out how to wiggle out of trouble each time.
It helped Khan’s cause that the offense spotted him six runs in the top of the first, spearheaded by Patrick’s RBI single and Josh Cruz’s two-run hit.
“Whenever your team gives you a lead like that in the first inning, you’re just out there setting the mentality for the whole game.” Khan said. “I went out there and tried to throw as hard as I could. If I needed to spot something up, I used my curveball. That’s how I got most of my strikeouts.”
Truman extended the lead to 8-0 after a run in the second and another run-scoring hit from Patrick in the fifth. Chrisman scored its only run on Miller’s RBI single in the bottom of the fifth.
Truman put it away with a six-run sixth, highlighted by an RBI triple from Gabriel Ramirez, and RBI doubles from Barnett and Brett Lundquist for Truman (6-13-1), who won back-to-back games for the first time all season.
Patrick was 2-for-3 with two RBIs; Nick Wheeler was 2-for-5; Barnett was 2-for-3 with an RBI; Lundquist was 2-for-3 with an RBI; and Camby was 2-for-3.
“It was a good day to come out and be consistent at the plate,” said Camby, who had five hits in the doubleheader. “I was seeing the ball well.”
Billy Ross had two singles for Chrisman (4-16). Seth Gossett and Miller were the losing pitchers.
“If we would have made the routine plays, we still would have been in that first ballgame for sure,” said Chrisman coach Miles Shelton, whose team committed five errors in Game 1. “Seth got back on the bump and threw strikes. He did his job and got guys routine plays.”