By Mike Pilosof
Garden City, KS-Whatever ailed Garden City's offense on Wednesday afternoon vs. McCook was cured with a 25-run outburst on Friday.
Conner Reynolds homered twice and drove in five runs as Garden City took the first two of a four-game set vs. Western Nebraska 10-2 and 15-5 at Williams Stadium.
"We're just taking everything one game at a time right now," Head Coach Chris Finnegan said. "There is still a lot of baseball left to play."
In the series opener, Cougars starter Angel Cortes was roughed up early, yielding a leadoff-single to Aeneas Roberson in the first before issuing back-to-back walks to Conner Reynolds and Alex Nielson. With the bases loaded, Clint Allen was plunked by a Cortes fastball that scored Roberson and Jesse Gonzales followed with a line-drive sac fly that plated Reynolds for a 2-0 lead.
The Broncbusters added two more runs in the second on a throwing error by third baseman Brock Randels that allowed Roberson and Reynolds to score. Then in the third, Billy Clark came home after Ty Lightley laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to make it 5-0.
"We will learn a lot about our team right now because we have guys in different spots," Finnegan said. "It's kind of a feeling-out process."
One spot that won't change is Reynolds place in the lineup. His bat assured that.
In the Bottom of the fourth, Reynolds led off the inning by taking Cortes deep and giving Garden City (5-2) a 6-0 cushion.
Western Nebraska (0-2) finally got on the board in the fifth when Stuart Eurich led off with a single and came around to score on Ty Benson's RBI hit. But the Broncbusters put any dreams of a comeback to bed with a four-run sixth, spearheaded by Reynolds second homer of the day: a two-run shot off reliever Eddy Nodarse.
Connor Burns tossed a gem for Garden City, pitching a complete game, and allowing just two runs—the second of which came on Burns RBI single in the seventh. He scattered just six hits while striking out two.
His counterpart Cortes allowed five earned runs on three hits in three innings. He walked four and struck out one.
In game two, Garden City broke open a scoreless contest in the third when Reynolds, Nielsen and Darian Burns slapped run-scoring singles. Then in the fourth with the bases juiced, Billy Clark scored when left fielder Esai Hernandez misplayed the ball. Jared Chick crossed on a wild pitch before Reynolds doubled home Alex Eskridge and Burns singled home Reynolds for a 7-0 advantage.
That cushion expanded in the fifth when Roberson ripped a two-run single to make it 9-0. After Reynolds base hit loaded the bases, Burns was hit by a pitch, scoring Eskridge. Rafael Viella capped the inning with a two-run single of his own, giving Garden City a 12-0 advantage.
The Cougars finally got something going in the fifth, tallying five runs to cut the deficit to seven. But with a chance to slice even further into the lead with runners at second and third with two outs, reliever Nick Lossi got Tyler Shubert to line out to end the threat.
Garden City finished off the run rule in the seventh. Ty Barclay's sac fly with the bases loaded scored Burns before Chick's bases-clearing triple ended the game.
Starter Noah Foreman secured his first win of the season, tossing five innings of shutout ball, allowing just three hits while fanning five. Zach Fritton pitched 1/3 of an inning in relief, surrendering two runs before giving way to Rian Olson, who got the Broncbusters out of the sixth-inning jam. Lossi pitched the seventh, retiring the side in order.
Next up: Garden City vs. Western Nebraska-Saturday, Feb. 11 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. No Radio