By Mike Pilosof
Dodge City, KS-Corbin Truslow may be the best kept secret in the Jayhawk Conference.
The freshman fell a triple short of the cycle, Gino Bourget drove in a season-high five runs, and Garden City earned a split with Dodge City, winning game one 13-9 before losing game two 7-2 Thursday afternoon at Cavalier Field.
"We've overcome a lot so far this year," Broncbusters Coach Chris Finnegan said. "These guys continue to battle."
Garden City (17-16, 5-9) showed plenty of grit in game one, thanks in large part to Truslow, who got the Broncbusters started with a two out, RBI double that gave the Broncbusters a 1-0 lead.
"Offense has not been our problem this year," Finnegan reiterated.
Dodge City (13-9, 3-7) came roaring back in the bottom half. Brayden Cook reached on Robbie Young's error at first, which was followed up by Colton Onstott's two-run shot to right-center, giving the Conquistadors a 2-1 lead.
"That was the only pitch that upset me," Finnegan said. "We totally failed to execute what we were supposed to do, and the guy hits it out."
Garden City was not down for long. In the second, Darien Burns, who had a front-row seat for the Onstott moon shoot a half inning earlier, drew a leadoff walk. Russell Cruz then advanced him to second with a sacrifice bunt before Bourget singled up the middle to tie the game at 2. After Griff Brunson struck out swinging, Clint Allen, who was back in the top spot in the order on Thursday, knocked Bourget in when Garrett Allen's throw from short got away from first baseman Garrett McGowan, pushing the Broncbusters back on top 3-2.
"I keep telling them that it's just a matter of time," Finnegan said. "We just need to keep executing."
Truslow did just that in the third, taking Tyler Whalen's 1-0 pitch the opposite way and parking it over the leftfield wall for a two-run shot. Four batters later, Bourget was at it again, singling home Chris Lara to make it 6-2.
"I'm pleased with how we came out in game one," Finnegan said. "These guys battled."
The Conquistadors power kept them in the game for a while. With two on and one out in the third, Tanner White devoured Austin Stone's breaking ball, mashing it out of the park to cut the Garden City lead to 6-5. Stone though quickly responded, striking out Dauson Tate and McGowan to end the inning.
"Sometimes I think we overthink things," Finnegan said. "In that particular instance, give their guys credit. In this park, anything hit to right center is gone. And they do a really good job of recruiting guys for this park."
The Broncbusters created some more distance in the fourth. Truslow added another RBI when he smoked a single to center, Bourget ripped a two-out, two-run double to the gap, and Allen doubled home two for a 12-5 advantage.
The Conquistadors made one final push in the fifth, getting a two-run homer from Onstott, and then scoring a run on an error before Allen singled home McGowan to slice the deficit to 12-9. But the Broncbusters answered with an RBI single by Robbie Young in the sixth to push the lead back to four.
"It's good to get a split with these guys on the road," Finnegan said. "At the end of the day, we will take it."
Stone allowed six earned runs on 10 hits in five innings, tallying his fourth win of the season. He fanned nine and allowed 10 hits while throwing 103 pitches. Nick Iossi was solid in relief, retiring three of the four batters he faced, and Scott Waterman pitched a scoreless seventh. Truslow and Bourget combined to drive in nine of the 13 runs for the Broncbusters, who also got three RBI from Allen.
Whalen dropped to 0-3, lasting just two innings, and giving up five earned runs on four hits. Bryce Newsom pitched 1.1 innings of relief and yielded four runs, while Joe Milano gave up three more in two frames. Onstott was 3-for-4 at the dish with four RBI.
In game two, Dodge City was the aggressor early.
Cade Engle's 10-pitch walk set the tone for the Conquistadors in the bottom of the first. Cook followed with an RBI double to left, and White drove in a run with a sac fly to give the home squad a 2-0 cushion.
But the game was put on ice in the second inning.
"Really we had one bad inning," Finnegan explained. "Other than that, we played really well."
McGowan led off the frame with a single, and Ian Garcia tripled to the gap in right-center to make it 3-0.
Then the fatal blow.
With two on, Onstott connected on his third homer of the day, a three-run shot off of Paxton Robinson that put Dodge City up 7-0.
As they did in the opener, Garden City responded valiantly when Young drilled a two-run bomb in the top of the third.
From there it was a stalemate, although the Broncbusters had plenty of chances to get back in the game.
Garden City loaded the bases in the sixth only to have Brunson line out to center. In the seventh, they had second and third with two outs before reliever Jake Taylor struck out Lara. An inning later, the road team had two on and nobody out and could not score. Truslow bounced into a force and Lara and Burns grounded out.
"We have to score in those situations," Finnegan said. "We had three straight innings where we could have done something. But what do you do?"
Jonny Chavez pitched his longest game of the season for Dodge City: 5.2 innings, allowing just two runs on seven hits while striking out a season-high eight batters. Onstott went 2-for-3 with 3 RBI, while Engle and Cook produced multi-hit games.
Nason dropped to 1-2 for Garden City, allowing two runs on one hit in one inning. Jacob Garza relieved him, but lasted just 1/3 of an inning, giving up four earned runs. Young recorded a two-hit game, Burns was 2-for-5, and Brunson had two hits in three at bats.
Next up: Garden City vs. Dodge City-Saturday, March 24-12:45 p.m. pregame; 1 p.m. first pitch on 99.9 FM