By Mike Pilosof
Garden City, KS-The howling winds of Southwest Kansas are something most people just get used to. For Broncbuster Coach Chris Finnegan, his team used it to fuel one of their best offensive attacks of the season.
Garden City slugged out 18 hits (the second most in a game this season) and drilled five home runs (second most in a game this season) as the Broncbusters blasted Frank Phillips 21-9 at Williams Stadium on Wednesday.
"I thought we swung the bat really well today," Finnegan said. "We definitely got some help from the wind blowing out at 40. We won't complain about that."
Frank Phillips (5-30, 2-18), who came in 144th in the nation in runs scored, tied the game in the second when Sam Hillyer doubled home Slayde Ortiz. They eventually took a 2-1 advantage in the third when Brett Esau clubbed his 10th homer of the season.
It was all Finengan's bunch from there.
In the fourth, Gonzales added his second RBI hit: a double that scored Alek Eskridge that pushed the lead to 6-2. Nielsen trotted home following an error by third baseman JB Moran, Conner Reynolds lined an RBI single to center, and Ty Lightley and Aeneas Roberson slapped back-to-back run-scoring singles before Rafael Viella drew a bases-loaded walk to put the Broncbusters on top 11-2.
"Even though we scored a lot of runs, I was more proud of our pitching today," Finnegan said.
Five hurlers, for the most part, kept the Plainsmen off balance while the offense continued to pour it on with five more in the fifth, spearheaded by Reynolds 14th home of the season: a two-run blast that opened up the floodgates. Viella followed three batters later with a three-run shot before Nielsen and Ty Barclay each went deep as part of a five-run sixth that made it 21-5.
Frank Phillips responded with three runs in the sixth and four in the seventh, including back-to-back jacks by Rico Luna and Esau, his second of the day before Garden City reliever Tanner Johnson got Koltyn Plumb to ground out to end the game.
"We are on to Hutchinson," Finnegan said of his upcoming four-game series with the 11th-ranked Blue Dragons at Williams Stadium beginning on Friday. "They are one of the best teams in the country."
Garden City starter Quinton Bonnell improved to 2-0 on the bump, allowing two earned runs in three innings of work. Nick Iossi, Zach Fritton, Johnson and AJ Stephens combined to allow seven runs on five hits the rest of the way.
Joe Kolo took the loss for Frank Phillips, who dropped their ninth straight game.
Next up: Garden City vs. Hutchinson-Friday, April 14-12:45 p.m. pregame; 1 p.m. first pitch on westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app