The Kansas Wesleyan Coyotes were not going to be denied a chance at a fifth straight win as the Coyotes hosted the York Panthers on Tuesday at Dean Evans Stadium.
After York grabbed a 4-3 lead in the top of the sixth, the Coyotes tied it in the bottom of the inning, and got the game-winner across in the bottom of the eighth to picked up a key 5-4 win over the Panthers.
Wesleyan’s win, coupled with Tabor’s loss to Bethany, and Oklahoma Wesleyan not playing a conference game on Tuesday broke the three-way tie for second in the KCAC with the Coyotes emerging with a half-game lead over OKWU and a one game lead over Tabor. The Coyotes sit two games back of McPherson.
Tuesday’s win boosted Wesleyan’s record to 24-9 overall and 12-4 in the KCAC heading into a key weekend series with Friends.
With the Coyotes leading 3-0 heading into the fifth, York scored twice in the fifth inning, taking advantage of a couple of KWU errors to push runs across.
The Panthers added two more in the sixth, plating a run on a balk, and another on a passed ball to give York a 4-3 lead.
Wesleyan returned the favor in the bottom of the inning, as Zack Beatty (JR/Maple Park, Ill.) reached on an error and then Cruz Oxford (FR/Peoria, Ariz.) drove in the game-tying run with a double down the line in left that scored pinch runner Tyler Triano (SR/Hollister, Calif.) to tie it at 4-4.
The Coyotes got out of a jam in the seventh getting York to leave the bases loaded without scoring.
In the eighth, reliever KT Gearlds (SR/Ingram, Texas) would strike out the side setting up Wesleyan’s chance to score the eventual game winner.
Beatty led off the inning with a single and Jarrett Gable (SR/Colleyville, Texas) followed with a single to third base. Two batters later Kevin Esquilin-Cruz (SR/Trujilo Alto, Puerto Rico) proved to be the hero with a base hit to center that scored pinch runner Coulson Riggs (FR/Piedmont, Okla.) from second base to give the Coyotes the lead.
Gearlds slammed the door on a York rally in the ninth, striking out the final two batters to secure Wesleyan’s win.
Things started out in favor of the Coyotes early. William Dryburgh (SR/St. Joseph, Mo.) led off the KWU first with a double and traded spots with Kendall Foster (SR/Prosper, Texs) who doubled off the top of the wall in right center, just missing a homer by literal inches. Two batters later, Foster scored on Dustin Sipe (SR/Aztec, N.M.)’s RBI groundout giving KWU a 2-0 lead after an inning.
Beatty extended Wesleyan’s lead in the fourth, crushing a ball out to left center to make it 3-0.
Dryburgh, Beatty, Gable and Oxford all had two hits for the Coyotes. Starter Spencer Foley (SR/Lancaster, Calif.) went four and two-thirds allowing two unearned runs on three hits with five strikeouts. Zach Westbrook (JR/Azle, Texas) went an inning, allowing two runs, one earned, on a hit with three strikeouts. Ritter Steinmann (SO/Oroville, Calif.) went an inning and a third with two walks and a strikeout. Gearlds earned the win, pitching two innings of hitless baseball, striking out five.
The Coyotes will be back in action on Saturday and Sunday, hosting Friends at The Dean. Saturday’s doubleheader starts at 1 p.m., and Sunday’s single game starts at 1 p.m., also at The Dean.