By Mike Pilosof
Garden City, KS-Garden City picked a perfect time for a couple of walk-off wins.
Ty Lightley hit a game-winning single in game three, Robbie Young ended game four with an RBI base hit, and the Broncbusters polished off a sweep of Pratt 6-5 and 12-11 Sunday afternoon at Williams Stadium.
"Both teams played hard," Garden City Head Coach Chris Finnegan said. "Everything counts at this point in the season."
With their fifth straight victory, the Broncbusters moved into seventh place in the Jayhawk West.
"Pratt is a really good offensive team," Finnegan said. "But we did a poor job of putting them away. We gave up way too many free bases again. We weren't very good defensively."
In game one, Eric Heiman was sharp, retiring the first 10 batters he faced. It wasn't until Gage Axline hit a one-out single in the fourth that the Beavers finally had a baserunner. That's when Pratt finally broke through. Another single, followed by Trace Maddux's RBI triple and Sean Johnson's sacrifice fly put the Beavers up 2-1.
"We gave Pratt way too much this series," Finnegan said.
Garden City (24-21, 10-14) fought back to tie it in the fifth when Corbin Truslow smacked his second triple of the series. After Pratt (15-28, 7-21) went back in front the following inning, Griff Brunson evened the score with an RBI single in the sixth before Clint Allen's run-scoring double put the Broncbusters up 4-3.
"We lived dangerously in these two games, and you can't do that," Finnegan said.
The Beavers jumped back on top with a pair of runs in the seventh.
That setup the late-inning dramatics from Garden City.
Truslow laced a one-out double off of starter Sean McElwee. After Chris Lara popped out to second, Darian Burns smashed a 3-1 pitch down the line for a triple to tie the game. Lightley followed suit with the game-winning single up the middle, and Garden City had their ninth come-from-behind victory of the season.
Ryder Yakel picked up his first win of the year, pitching 1 1/3 innings of relief, allowing no earned runs on one hit. He struck out three. Truslow and Burns each collected three hits.
Quentin Kopjar was the losing pitcher for Pratt, tossing 2/3 innings of relief, giving up two runs on two hits.
Game two was definitely an adventure.
Garden City jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two innings. But a disastrous fifth, which was fueled by an error and three extra base hits, tied the game. Then in the sixth, the Beavers scored five runs with two outs to take a 9-4 advantage.
"It really kind of fell apart in those two innings," Finnegan said. "We gave them that."
Credit Garden City for how they responded.
In the bottom of the sixth, Lightley hit an RBI double, Young hit a sac fly, and Truslow smacked a two-run double to push Garden City back in front 10-9.
Pratt answered with a run in the eighth; then took the lead when Eric Escamilla scored on a wild pitch in the ninth. But the Broncbusters had the last laugh. Burns led off the Garden City half with a single. Lightley doubled, and Brunson hit a sac fly to tie it. Two batters later, Young hit a line-drive single up the middle for the game winner.
Scott Waterman picked up the win in relief, getting the final two outs in the ninth. Kendrick Catron started the game and went 4 2/3 innings, not allowing a single earned run. Young was 3-for-5 at the plate with three RBI, and Truslow added two hits.
Kopjar took the loss for Pratt, yielding two runs on four hits in 2 1/3.
Next up: Garden City vs. Seward County-Thursday, April 19-11:45 am pregame; noon first pitch on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app