Finally, fun times for Pipeliners, Royals

By Steve Sell
July 11, 2018

There have been some recent parallels between the McPherson Pipeliners and the Kansas City Royals, right down to their powder blue uniform tops and matching 10-game losing streaks.

The first-year Pipeliners got off to a promising start, standing at 8-8 as late as June 22 as they were the surprise of the Kansas Collegiate League Baseball as they were in the upper division.

Since then, a string of injuries and attrition have brought the season crashing down around them. They are 2-13 over their last 15 games as all areas have fallen off, from too many walks by the pitchers to too many errors to a lack of consistent hitting.

But the Pipeliners have been a nice summer addition during a time when things are slow and the organization does a lot of good things to make it a quality experience for the common fan. Also, it’s good to see local products Marcus McDaniel and Cody Starkel making key contributions. McDaniel, by the way, announced Tuesday that he would be joining Starkel this upcoming year at Fort Hays State.

I have covered their home games and marvel how they continue to come to the ball park every day ready to play despite a taxing schedule that is physically demanding. They are playing a Major League schedule, currently in a stretch of games that started on July 3 and runs through July 17 without a day off, with a doubleheader thrown in for good measure.

On Tuesday, the Liners hosted the championship-contending Kansas Cannons, who started the night a game back of the first-place Wellington Heat. McPherson lugged in a 10-game losing streak, including a pair of close losses on Monday to these same Cannons in Augusta.

Somehow, despite the oppressive heat and an ego-sapping 1-13 record in the previous 14 games, the Pipeliners were full of energy from the first pitch, with many lineup changes to infuse some life into the team.

The result was a 7-4 win, which just proves that anything can happen in baseball. McPherson was up 7-0 in the fourth inning and made just enough plays to hang on for the win as the bullpen shackled some potential Cannon uprisings.

The Pipeliners’ packed regular season ends on Tuesday, but they have five home games coming up. They are hoping to build momentum for next season, as the team has committed to playing in McPherson for a minimum of 3 years.

As for the Royals, they’ve been on pace for one of the all-time disastrous seasons in modern baseball history. They snapped their second 10-game losing streak of the year on Tuesday with what for them was an offensive avalanche with nine runs and 15 hits in a 9-4 win over Minnesota.

KC had not scored that many runs since losing 9-6 on June 4 to California. Alex Gordon had not driven in a run in a month as he had been stuck on 15 RBIs since June 9, but he flashed his old form with two RBIs. Even the Royals’ beleagured bullpen had enough runs to work with as Brian Flynn threw the best he has all year with 4 innings of 1-hit relief.

My guess is the Royals’ offensive outburst was an aberration, but at least playing the Twins and the upcoming series with the Chicago White Sox is a nice change of pace from all the top teams they seemingly have played the last few weeks.