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Home run derby: Broncbusters split final two with Butler

Home run derby: Broncbusters split final two with Butler

El Dorado, KS-On a day when the wind was blowing briskly out to left at 30 mph, the contests between Garden City and Butler looked like home run derby instead of a baseball game.  All together 18 home runs were hit and 58 runs score in a doubleheader split.  Butler won the first game 11-10 and Garden City took the second 26-11.

The Broncbusters took three out of four in the series and pulled to within just one game of the conference co-leaders Hutchinson and Dodge City.

In game one Garden City (20-11, 8-4) jumped out to an early lead on a solo homer from Connor Reynolds off lefty starter Corey Murphy and a sac bunt from Rafael Villela.  The lead would be short-lived as Butler went back to back with homers from both Caleb Cox and Tanner White in a three-run first.

The Broncbusters evened the score in the third when Clint Allen stroked an RBI double to left field tying up the game at 3-3.

Butler took control with a four-run bottom of the third on an RBI single from Connor Hurst and then first baseman Jackson Soule's three-run homer off former Lakin standout pitcher Ryder Yakel

The Broncbusters tied it up with a four-run fourth inning, highlighted by Aeneas Roberson's two-run double past third, Connor Reynolds had a wind-aided triple to center, and Alex Nielsen's sac-fly tied the game at 7.

Butler took the lead again on Garrett Chalker's RBI single in the bottom of the fourth making it 8-7 Grizzlies.  Garden City would briefly take the lead on Jesse Gonzales fourth homer of the year.  The two run poke made it a 9-8 Broncbusters.

Nick Iossi surrendered a two-run double to left-center by Grizzlies third baseman Garrett Glass putting Butler back on top.  Gonzales would pull Garden City back even with an RBI triple in the sixth off Zack Bilek evening the game at 10-10.

However, Butler would score the last run in winning 11-10 on Alex Nielsen's booted ball and errant throw with two outs in the bottom of the sixth.  The error brought in Javis Larson with what turned out to be the winning run when Bilek had Villela groundout to short with the tying and winning runs on base in the seventh inning.

For Butler (11-16, 3-9) it was their second win in their last eleven games. 

Game two also started out well for the Broncbusters when lefty starting pitcher Dallas Armstrong allowed Ty Barclay's three-run homer to left as part of a four-run inning to put Garden City in front 4-0.

Butler would finally show the power they had been lacking most of the series, homering four times and knocking out Garden City starting pitcher Kendrick Catron in the first inning.  Caleb Cox had his second homer of the day on a three-run blast, Connor Hurst; Jackson Soule and Alex Borough went back to back to back on three solo homers to push Butler ahead 6-4.

Trailing 10-5 in the fifth, Garden City started the comeback that saw them score 21 of the final 22 runs in coasting to their best offensive performance of the year.

Gonzales added his second homer of the year on a two-run shot in the first knocking Armstrong from the game and bringing Garden City to within 10-8.

"We just settled in, that's what we did," Garden City Coach Chris Finnegan said. "We quit playing to the scoreboard, we just started playing hard."

In the sixth Garden City had a three-homer inning for the third time in the last five games and second time in the series to take the lead for good.  Alex Eskridge started with a solo blast off Caleb Nunez of the Grizzlies making it 10-9 Butler.  Later Clint Allen added a three-run job, his first of two in the second game that gave Garden City their first lead since the first inning 12-10.  Hayden Schaeffer in relief for the Grizzlies served up another long ball to the next batter Billy Clark making it 13-10 Garden City.

Connor Reynolds had his second homer of the day in the seventh to make it 14-10 Garden City. The Broncbusters added three more in the eighth on Ty Barclay's homer and added nine more in the ninth sparked by Allen's second shot of the day and capping off a 15-run win.

All while the offense was adding run after run, Nick Ulmer provided some stability for the Broncbusters by retiring eight batters in a row stretching from the fifth through the seventh in picking up the win. 

"Our bullpen stepped up huge, huge all weekend," Finnegan said.

Garden City will have a mid-week doubleheader Wednesday afternoon at two against Otero before welcoming in Barton County this weekend.