By Mike Pilosof
Great Bend, KS-Oh how one inning can change everything.
Cruising along and holding a 3-0 lead, the Broncbusters watched Barton plate nine runs in the sixth, turning a deficit into a 12-4 Cougar victory in the series finale Saturday afternoon at Lawson-Biggs Field.
"We played well enough to win," Head Coach Chris Finnegan said. "We put the barrel on the ball, but unfortunately hit it right at someone all day."
Despite mustering only one hit, Garden City built a three-run lead, thanks in large part to solid pitching by Malachi Crone, who held Barton scoreless over five fantastic innings. He struck out a season high seven and scattered just three hits.
Meantime, the offense manufactured a run on Brock Johnson's sacrifice fly in the second. In the fifth, Chris Lara took the first pitch he saw from Jacob Ensz and sent it over the right-field wall. Jake Barber added an RBI groundout later in the frame, and the Broncbusters had a 3-0 advantage.
"There are a lot of things we started to do better as the weekend went on," Finnegan said. "A lot of the mistakes that we made was just about game speed more than anything."
In the sixth, Finnegan went to his bullpen, who had pitched very well in the three previous games vs. Barton. But Ryan Nason issued a walk to Nolan Riley, Noah Geekie singled, and Charlie Peyla walked to load the bases. Trying to hold onto the lead, the veteran skipper replaced Nason with side-arming righty Andrew Sumner, who surrendered a sacrifice fly to Tyler Bandiera to make it 3-1.
"We made a couple of mistakes and one thing kind of led to another," Finnegan said.
Pinch hitter Chandler Bloomer followed with a bloop single over first that turned into a run when Chris Lara threw the ball into left field. Noah Rheinhemer then ripped a two-run triple, Brett Erickson and Andrew Stewart smoked RBI doubles, Nolan Riley smashed a triple to left, and Geekie scored on a passed ball. Jacob Douglas finally stopped the bleeding by getting Peyla to strike out and Bandier to fly out, but the damage was done. In all, the Cougars sent 12 men to the plate in the inning, scored nine runs on seven hits and produced four extra-base hits (two doubles and two triples).
"That shot that landed over first, it was a situation where baserunners were like what do we do; the wind is blowing everywhere," Finnegan explained. "With that, we try to make a play at second and throw it away. Then the double happens. Our body language just wasn't good in that inning."
Barton added a run in the eighth on Peyla's RBI triple and two more in the ninth off of reliever Jordan Yates. The Broncbusters loaded the bases in the bottom half, but produced only one run: an RBI single by Barber.
"We will come back tomorrow, and get these guys going again," Finnegan said. "We have a chance to play on Tuesday, so that's a good thing."
Coleton Crisp picked up his first win of the season out of the pen for the Cougars, fanning four in three innings while not allowing a hit.
The Broncbuters bullpen was responsible for nine earned runs on 13 hits with Andrew Sumner took the loss, giving up six runs on six hits in a 1/3 of an inning.
Next up: Garden City at Otero-Tuesday, March 12-2 p.m. CDT