By Mike Pilosof
Colby, KS-A solid start quickly turned sour.
Matt Coutney drilled a pair of home runs, and Colby pitching allowed just nine hits combined as the Trojans took the first two games from Garden City 5-3 and 22-3 on Thursday afternoon at Young-Memorial Field.
"We continue to pitch over the middle of the plate," Broncbusters Coach Chris Finnegan said. "I don't think Austin Stone or Paxton Robinson was terrible. There was a lot of soft contact. But our bullpen couldn't get anyone out, and that's a problem."
If the beginning of game one was a sign of things to come, the veteran skipper was all for it.
"We gave our starter a lead," Finnegan said. "But it comes down to pitching well, and we didn't."
Robinson looked sharp in the bottom of the first, striking out Josh Diggins and getting Jacob Bouzide to pop out to second. But he left a pitch out over the plate that Enok Perez hammered off the wall in center for a triple. After that, Coutney took an 0-1 breaking ball and crushed it over the wall in right-center, cutting Garden City's lead to 3-2.
"When you leave pitches over the middle of the plate against a good hitting team, they will get you. And today, they got us."
In the Colby second, Andy Leader reached on an error by Ty Lightley at short, and Christian Roduner was hit by a pitch. That setup Drake Kirkwood, who drilled a three-run homer that gave the Trojans their first lead, 5-3.
That was all the support Hoffman needed.
After allowing back-to-back singles to Lightley and Tyrus Barclay in the third, the freshman hurler retired 13 of the final 14 batters including seven straight to end the game. He picked up his sixth win of the season, allowing just three runs on four hits in seven innings. He fanned five and walked three. Coutney was 2-for-3 at the plate with two RBI and a run scored.
Robinson took the loss, surrendering five runs on four hits in four innings. Ryder Yakel pitched two solid innings of relief, not allowing a hit and striking out two. Truslow, Barclay, Lightley and Griffin Brunson each had a hit for Garden City.
Game two is one Finnegan would like to forget.
After taking a 2-0 lead in the first on Lightley's two-out, two-run single, Colby took full command.
The Trojans answered with Cameron Tilley's two-run homer in the second to tie it before the avalanche hit in the third.
Colby sent 11 guys to the plate, pounded out six hits and scored six runs off of Stone, including Perez's two-run homer. An inning later, the Trojans batted through the order again, finally chasing the Broncbusters' starter after Tilley singled home a run to make it 9-2. AJ Stephens replaced him, walked the basses loaded, hit Roduner to score a run, and then surrendered a two-run single to Kirkwood. Finnegan quickly pulled him for Ryan Nason, who allowed three straight hits: singles by Josh Diggins and Perez and a double by Ryley Humrighouse. Scott Waterman fared no better, yielding a two-run jack to Coutney that put Colby in front 18-2.
In all, the Trojans scored 16 runs in the third and fourth innings while sending a combined 23 guys to the plate. They added four more in the fifth.
Jesse Simpson picked up the win in relief for the Trojans, tossing three scoreless innings. Starter Ryan Morgan lasted two frames, giving up two runs on three hits, and six Colby players recorded multi-hit games, including Tilley, who tied a season-high with four knocks.
Stone took the loss for Garden City, allowing 10 earned runs on 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings.
Next up: Garden City vs. Colby-Saturday, April 28-11:45 a.m. pregame; noon first pitch on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR Mobile app