By Mike Pilosof
Photo by Adam Shrimplin
Dodge City, KS-The Broncbusters have the horses to make a run in the Jayhawk West. It just comes down to consistency, something sophomore pitcher Eric Heiman is still searching for.
Heiman worked seamlessly through three innings before the wheels came off in the fourth. Drake Angeron knocked in three for Dodge City, and the Conquistadors took down Garden City 9-4 in the series opener Saturday afternoon at Cavalier Field.
"Eric was missing high again and missing his spots," Head Coach Chris Finnegan said. "But it wasn't just him. We didn't execute the game plan at all."
Heiman surrendered one run in the bottom of the second when Blake Rast singled home Cameron Fritz. But he settled down to get Ryan Armstrong looking on strike three; then worked around a two-out walk to get Angeron swinging at a fastball away. The following inning, the sophomore retired the Conquistadors in order.
In the top of the fourth, the Broncbuters got things going when Brenden Andersen and Dakota Finely hit back-to-back singles. Griffin Brunson moved them over with a sacrifice bunt, and Colin Stone was intentionally walked by Luke Boline to load the bases. Dyan Rodriguez followed with an RBI fielder's choice that tied the game. But with a chance to take the lead, Jake Barber lined out to right.
"Our problem in the first game was we couldn't minimize an inning," Finnegan said.
Heiman lost his command in the bottom of the fourth, yielding a leadoff single to Fritz and a one-out base hit to Rast. Ryan Armstron then singled home a run, catcher Logan Murany walked on five pitches, and Angeron delivered the fatal blow: a three-run double that put Dodge City up 5-1. They added two more runs, including Trey Vasquez's RBI single that made it 7-1.
"That's been our Achilles heel all season; giving up a six-spot just like that," Finnegan added.
Dodge City plated two more in the fifth off reliever Andrew Sumner, who served up a two-run double to Spencer Marcus. But there was a silver lining in the sixth, even in a losing effort.
Garden City changed their approach, becoming more aggressive at the plate. They ended up sending eight guys to the dish and scored three runs to slice the deficit to 9-4. And even though they failed to score in the seventh, that mindset changed things going into game two.
"We made a couple of subtle changes," Finnegan said. "We just found ways to get on base."
Heiman lost his second straight decision, giving up seven runs on eight hits in 3.2 innings. Sumner surrendered two runs on two hits in one inning, and Miguel Ramos worked a scoreless sixth. Finley finished 4-for-4 at the plate.
Boline notched his first victory of the season, yielding four runs on seven hits in 5.1 innings.