The Dodge City Conquistadors had been on a hot streak lately, but errors both in the field and on the basepaths caught up to them last weekend, losing three of four games of their series with the Butler Grizzlies to fall out of first place.
The two teams split Saturday's doubleheader, with Dodge City winning the opener 1-0 in a pitchers' duel to extend their conference winning streak to 11, before losing to the Grizzlies 9-2 in the nightcap.
Sunday saw the Conqs battle back from large early deficits only to give up runs in later innings to lose 8-6 and 17-5 to the Grizzlies. It was the first series loss for Dodge City this season after sweeping Colby and Cloud County in the previous series.
The Conqs (26-16, 15-9) fell a game behind in the Jayhawk West to Seward County (22-20, 16-8), who won three of four at Pratt last weekend. Butler (16-12, 12-8) moved into a tie for third place with Garden City in the league standings.
Dodge City ace Ross Vance threw a two-hit complete game shutout as he was able to get the win on the mound over Butler's Brad Day. Vance didn't walk anybody and struck out nine during his time on the hill.
Day was just as impressive, giving up only three hits in six innings of work. He struck out three and walked three on the way to the setback.
The only run of the game for the opener came in the bottom of the fifth when Shay Lynes singled, went to second on a sacrifice bunt and to third on a groundout. Lynes reached home on an error by shortstop Gabe Cook on a ball hit by Haden Houska.
Dodge City took the 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second in the nightcap on a sacrifice fly by Jarren Donato, but the Grizzlies came back with six runs in the fourth and three more in the sixth to take control of the game.
Butler used four RBI singles and two bases-loaded walks for their runs in the fourth; and Evam Koehler hit a two-run single after Ty Moore hit a fielders choice with the bases loaded to pad the lead.
The Conqs got their final run in the bottom of the eighth on a RBI single by Conner Koepp.
Dalton Wheat finished 3-for-4 with two runs batted in, while Moore and Koehler also knocked in two runs apiece.
Jackson Rolfs was the winning pitcher for Butler, giving up two runs and five hits while striking out three in his eight innings of work. Clayton Brewster was the losing pitcher for Dodge City, giving up five earned runs and four hits in 3 2/3 innings of work.
The first game on Sunday saw the Grizzlies score six runs in the second inning with the help of three Dodge City errors.
Jagger Harjo got an out before loading the bases on a walk, a single and a hit batsman. Cook hit a RBI single before Butler scored four runs on back-to-back errors by Houska at shortstop and second baseman Donato. A third error by catcher Jerry Lacayo advanced the runner to second, who later scored on a double by Moore.
Dodge City came back with two runs in the botom of the second on a two-run double by Chris Ramsey. The Conqs made it 6-3 in the third on a RBI by Parker Jones, and tied the game in the bottom of the fourth with three runs on RBI singles by Houska, Connor Ross and Koepp.
The Conqs continued to have the momentum with runners at second and third and nobody out, but pinchhitter Scott Hillier hit a linedrive at Cook, who was able to throw out Lynes before he could get back to second for a double play. Lacayo then grounded out to end the threat.
Butler answered in the top of the sixth with two runs on a single by Moore off Harjo. Harjo finished with eight runs (six earned), eight hits and a walk while striking out five in 5 2/3 innings of work. Connor Dempsey came in relief to pick up the decision for Butler.
The Grizzlies opened up the scoring in the nightcap with home runs by Koehler and Thomas Bell in the second inning. Butler scored three more in the third on a sacrifice fly by Brandon Taylor and a two-run double by Bell.
Dodge City tied the game with five runs in the bottom of the third. Jones brought in a run on a fielders' choice, Lynes hit a two-run double, and Lacayo followed with a two-run home run.
Butler answered with two runs in the fourth on a RBI single by Wheat and he later scored on a wild pitch. The Grizzlies added six more in the fifth after the first two men reached base due to Dodge City errors. Ezell hit a three-run home run, Moore and Taylor hit RBI singles, and Moore scored on an error when Ramsey misplayed Taylor's hit.
The Grizzlies scored a run in the seventh when Levi Parker singled, stole second and third bases, and scored when Lacayo's throw in his attempt at third base got away. Butler scored three runs in the eighth to finish the game on RBI singles by Bell and Wheat and a RBI triple by Parker.
The Conqs return to action Tuesday afternoon with a single game against Frank Phillips. The first pitch is scheduled for 5:05 p.m.