By Mike Pilosof
Garden City, KS-For seven innings on Wednesday, Garden City was absolutely cruising. But a disastrous late-inning stretch turned a runaway into the Broncbusters 13th loss of the season.
Otero scored six in the eighth, two in the ninth and three in the 12th, completely erasing a six-run deficit to beat Garden City 13-10 at Williams Stadium.
"It's definitely a tough way to lose," Broncbusters Head Coach Chris Finnegan said afterwards. "We blew an 8-2 lead. That just can't happen."
It appeared Garden City had carried their offensive momentum from their weekend series into their showdown with the Rattlers. Darian Burns drew a leadoff walk, stole second and third before eventually coming around to score on Jared Chick's RBI groundout in the third. Alex Nielsen followed with a run-scoring single, and the Broncbusters led 2-0.
After Otero cut the lead in half in the top of the fifth on Wille Baez's solo home run, Garden City (21-12, 8-4) exploded in the bottom half. Alex Eskridge tripled and scored on Chick's RBI double and Nielsen's extra base hit plated one. With runners at the corners, Billy Clark smoked a double and Jesse Gonzales laced a two-out, two-run single to push the lead to 7-1.
"Everything was working in our favor," Finnegan said. "But that's baseball for you."
What appeared to be a harmless run in the top of the sixth, actually fueled the fire for Otero (11-17, 6-4).
Gaylan Young's RBI double scored Will Hamilton from first, making it a five-run contest. And despite the Broncbusters scoring on a wild pitch in the bottom of the frame, the momentum had clearly shifted. The eighth inning justified that.
With one out and the bases loaded, Broncbusters reliever Michael Dziurgot served up a three-run double to Jesus Chavez. Briton Schiewe singled and scored on Chick's error at short before Nielsen's miscue at third allowed Carter Mossey and Hunter Junge to come home and tie the game 8-8. Dziurgot finally got out of the inning when he got Alex Schaneman to ground out to short, but the damage was done. In the end, six runs on six hits and two errors cost Garden City the lead.
The Broncbusters grabbed the lead back in the bottom of the eighth thanks to Clark's RBI double. But it did not stick for long. Chavez hit a sacrifice fly and Baez scored on Eskridge's error at second in the top of the ninth to give Otero a 10-9 advantage.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Broncbusters nearly missed their chance to force extra innings when Gonzales was tagged out at home after Aeneas Roberson tried to bunt him across. But Ty Lightley followed with a walk to load the bases and Nielsen was hit by a pitch, allowing Eskridge to trot home from third to tie the game. However, with the winning run 90-feet away, Clint Allen, who drilled three home runs in their series vs. Butler, flew out to center field to end the inning.
Eventually, Otero made Garden City pay for their missed scoring opportunity.
With one out in the 12th, Nick Ulmer replaced Quinton Bonnell on the hill for the Broncbusters. He issued back-to-back walks to Junge and Mossey. After getting Sammuel Avila to strike out, the sophomore yielded a three-run double to Schaneman that gave the Rattlers a 13-10 edge.
"You learn from it, and you move on," Finnegan added. "That's all you can do."
Otero reliever Coddy Sasser got Allen, Clark and Ty Barclay to go in order in the bottom half to end the game.
Ulmer dropped to 0-2 on the mound, allowing two runs on one hit and walked two. One of those runs in the 12th was charged to Bonnell, who walked two and struck out two in 2 1/3 innings of work.
Sasser notched the win for Otero, tossing two innings of scoreless relief.
Next up: Garden City vs. Barton County-Saturday, Mar. 25-12:45 p.m. pregame; 1 p.m. first pitch on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app