By Mike Pilosof
Allen collected six hits, Truslow added two including a walk-off single, and Garden City took the first two games from Cloud County 8-7 and 6-4 at Williams Stadium.
"This was a great team effort," Head Coach Chris Finnegan said.
In the opener, Garden City (14-6, 2-0) overcame a four-run deficit in the third, thanks in large part to Allen, who smoked a lead-off single. Robbie Young followed with a long, run-scoring base hit that got the Broncbusters on the board. Then, with the bases loaded and two outs, Young scored on a wild pitch, and ReJean Bourget ripped a two-run single to tie the game at 4.
"When we have opportunities, we have to take advantage of it," Finnegan said.
Garden City did just that in the fifth when Ty Barclay and Ty Lightley smashed RBI doubles to the gap, giving the Broncbusters a 6-4 lead. They made it 7-4 the following inning behind Brunson, who devoured reliever Jacob Dauer's 1-2 pitch over the right-field wall.
"We were mentally better than Cloud County, but they are the more talented team," Finnegan said.
With a three-run lead, Finnegan decided to leave starter Austin Stone in the game in the seventh.
"That's my fault; I wanted him to get the complete game," Finnegan said.
Stone allowed a lead-off single to Dario DeSantis; then plunked Rymon Simmons before issuing an eight-pitch walk to Matt Bondarchuk to load the bases.
"I should have taken Austin out; he pitched a heck of a game," Finnegan said.
Nick Iossi replaced Stone and immediately forced in a run when he hit Erik Sabrowski. Tauren Langley followed with a sacrifice fly, and after a Ryan Krolikowski drew a free pass, Gabriel Jacobo hit a fly ball deep enough to score the runner from third to tie the game.
"Give Cloud County a ton of credit," Finnegan said. "They definitely made us work."
In extras, Garden City began their eighth-inning rally when Allen singled. Brunson and Young were both plunked by fastballs before Truslow delivered the dagger, fisting off a fastball that found a hole between first and second, scoring Allen from third, and polishing off the Broncbusters first conference win of the year.
Paxton Robinson picked up the win, working a scoreless top of the eighth. Stone allowed seven runs on six hits in six innings, and Iossi worked out of trouble in the seventh, issuing one walk.
Logan Adelhart took the loss for Cloud County, giving up the game-winning hit to Truslow. Starter Austen Seidel struck out five in 2.2 innings of work. He yielded four runs on four hits.
In game two, Jacob Garza gave Finnegan exactly what he needed on the bump.
Garza was fantastic in three innings, striking out three and allowing just two hits. He exited in the fourth with a one-run lead courtesy of Young, who singled home Allen in the bottom of the third.
"We've been in some dogfights so far this year," Finnegan said. "That definitely helped us."
Cloud County (5-7, 0-2) came back to take the lead in the fifth when Sabrowski singled home Bondarchuk and Enrique Gonzalez. Langley followed with an RBI double, and the Thunderbirds surged in front 3-1.
Garden City was not down for long. A half-inning later, Lightley led off with a double, Allen knocked him in with a line-drive single before coming around himself on Young's RBI groundout to knot the score at 3.
"We came up big in situations when we needed to," Finnegan said.
After Eric Heiman surrendered the lead again in the sixth on a Bondarchuck's sac fly, the Broncbusters responded again with Bourget's two-run single. That was followed by Brunson's RBI hit, and Garden City was in the driver's seat 6-4.
Cloud County got the go-ahead run to the plate in the top of the seventh, but Robinson finished off another come-from-behind victory when he got Tucker Catlett to pop out to Brunson at second.
"We will take it, but now the series is 0-0 because we go to their yard on Saturday," Finnegan said. "That's going to be a challenge this year with the new format."
Scott Waterman got the win in relief, improving to 2-0 on the season. Robinson earned his first save.
Jackson Dietel dropped to 2-1 for Cloud County, allowing six runs on nine hits in six innings.
Next up: Garden City at Cloud County-Saturday, March. 3-12:45 p.m. pregame; 1 p.m. first pitch on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app; game two on AM 1030 KBUF; westernkansasnews.com/kbuf