By Mike Pilosof
Garden City, KS-For only the second time in three years, Garden City was swept in a conference series.
Butler took the final two games from the Broncbusters on Saturday, winning game three 8-2 and the finale 13-7 at Williams Stadium.
"Everything went wrong for us," Head Coach Chris Finnegan said. "You're not going to win games when you're giving things away."
Butler (15-5, 7-1) got their offense going early in both games, scoring two runs in the top of the first in game three when Javier Pena and Connor Hurst ripped RBI singles.
From there it was all Butler.
Jack Macki doubled and came around on Cade Morroe's run-scoring base hit in the fourth; Pena ripped an RBI triple in the fifth followed by Hurst's RBI ground out that pushed the Grizzlies lead to 5-1. In the sixth, reliever Aaron Peach gave up a five-pitch walk to Mason Goade to begin the stanza and a free pass to Morrow. Finnegan then inserted Ryan Nason, who got Garrett Chalker and Patrick Bethea to fly out. But Gabe Rivera's error at second allowed three runs to score.
"We just gave stuff to them," Finnegan. "We had 11 errors in these two games. We continue to give up free bases."
"Games like this happen in junior-college baseball," Finnegan said.
The story of this game was Butler sophomore southpaw Drake Norton, who improved to 3-1 by limiting the Broncbusters to just two runs on six hits in seven solid innings. He struck out three.
"Give him (Norton) credit," Finnegan said. "That's not the same guy we saw last year."
Jacob Douglas dropped to 3-3 on the bump, surrounding five runs on eight hits in five innings. Peach gave up two runs in relief while Nason allowed one.
In the final game of the series, the Grizzlies left no doubt.
Receiving votes in the latest poll, Butler jumped all over Broncbuster starter Ryder Yakel, tagging him for two runs in the first and five in the second. A double, a hit by pitch, and a multitude of errors in the second, helped seal Yakel's fate.
"Right now, we have to figure it out," Finnegan said. "There isn't a drill that's going to make you catch the ball better."
Pena added a two-run single in the third; then scorched a two-out, RBI triple in the fifth that put the Grizzlies up 10-0.
The Broncbusters fought back in the bottom of the fifth. Robbie Young knocked in a run on a double to left; then scored on a bases-loaded walk issued by reliever Devin Henderson. Darian Burns followed with a two-run single, and Garden City cut the Butler lead to 10-4. They inched closer in the sixth thanks to Truslow, who added his 40th RBI of the season when he singled home Allen. He scored two batters later on Ty Barclay's soft single that made it a four-run game.
But all that momentum was stripped away in the seventh when Keone Givens singled home Goade, and Jackson Soule, the hero from Thursday's walk-off victory, knocked in a pair on a double to the gap.
Yakel dropped to 0-2 this season, allowing seven runs, but only two of them were earned. Kendrick Catron tossed an inning of relief and surrendered a pair of runs, Paxton Robinson gave up one, and Brant Sobczak yielded three runs in one inning of work.
James Leitch got the win for Butler, allowing four runs on eight hits in 4.3 innings.
"Obviously we are not in a good place right now," Finnegan said. "And we've got a really good Barton County team coming in here this week."
Next up: Garden City vs. Barton County-Thursday, March 15-12:45 p.m. pregame; 1 p.m. first pitch on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app