On a night the Kansas City Royals ended their 10-game losing streak, so did the McPherson Pipeliners.
And much to the consternation of the Kansas Cannons.
The Augusta-based team had entered Tuesday’s game at Light Capital Diamond just a game back of KCLB-leading Wellington, but the Pipeliners sprang one of the big upsets of the year with a 7-4 victory.
It was a tremendously played game by the Liners, who have beaten the Cannons twice this year. They received 6 1/3 solid innings of starting pitching from Ethan Wilson, then the bullpen triumvirate of Britt Brown, Corey Steward and Cody Starkel was able to thwart any comeback attempts by the Cannons, who did score two runs in the ninth to at least make McPherson sweat.
Carson Davis provided the big blow as he crashed a grand-slam homer in a five-run third inning that blew the Pipeliners out to a big lead. Liam Rosebeck, strictly a pitcher, got his first start as a position player and delivered three hits and two RBIs, while providing his usual energy.
“He (Rosebeck) did way above what we thought he was going to do,” said McPherson manager Caleb Hartman, whose team is now 8-20 in league play and 10-21 overall. “He came in and did his job and came up big with two RBIs and it paid off for us.”
Rosebeck’s two-run single came in the fourth when McPherson increased its lead to 7-0. The Liners did not score over the final four innings due to some solid relief work by the Cannons’ bullpen, but the early deficit was too much for them to overcome.
Davis yanked his homer over the right-field fence as he’s proven to be the Pipeliners’ main home run threat.
“We’ve gone like 10 games without a home run,” Hartman said. “He’s been pulling the ball a lot, which we’re not real fond of, because he has more power to the opposite side, but it worked out for us in that situation. I’m just glad the bases were loaded at that time.”
Wilson, who has been an ironman, competed hard on the mound, giving McPherson all he had in the tank.
“Ethan did exceptionally well,” Hartman said. “He’s pitched a lot in the last couple of weeks. He’s had three outings in the last week-and-a-half. He did his job, he wasn’t feeling tired.”
The surprise of the night was Starkel, a former catcher, turned first baseman, turned right fielder, turned relief pitcher.
“When our staff started thinning out, we asked some guys to throw and Starkel has thrown in the past. He’s thrown a couple of innings at Fort Hays State in the fall,” Hartman said. “We had him on the mound the other day and he’s got a heavy fastball with some movement.”
McPherson goes back on the road tonight to play Valley Center before returning home Thursday to take on Clearwater. The Pipeliners also host Valley Center on Friday and Park City on Saturday.