By Mike Pilosof
Photo by Adam Shrimplin
Dodge City, KS-Chris Finnegan made one subtle change in game two on Saturday.
Lara cranked his second home run of the season while driving in a career-best five runs, Darrian Escobar-Winter tossed four solid innings, and Garden City earned a split on day one, beating Dodge City 12-2 in an eight-inning run rule at Cavalier Field. The win snapped a five-game conference losing streak.
"Chris has worked his tail off," Finnegan said. "He lost 40 pounds over the summer and fall and made himself a feasible asset for our team."
Lara wasted no time making his presence felt. In the top of the first, he ripped a two-run double that put Garden City (14-8, 1-5) up 2-0. He came around to score moments later when Brock Johnson laced an RBI Single, Dyan Rodriguez smoked a two-run double, and the road squad had a 6-0 advantage.
"Chris is a guy that's been coached by his father his whole life," Finnegan said. "His dad runs a really great program, and he understands the game. He brings a little something else to this team."
While Lara was providing an offensive punch, Escobar-Winter was dealing on the bump. The freshman, who was making his second start of the season, surrendered just one hit over the first two innings. His lone mistake though came in the third when Garrett McGowan drilled an elevated fastball over the wall in right for a two-run homer. But other than that, he kept the Conquistadors off balance, working around a hit batsmen and a walk in the fourth before giving way to reliever Miguel Ramos in the fifth.
"We're just trying to build him (Escobar-Winter) up," Finnegan said. "It's not like I can say I need seven out of him. We have to work him up to that."
The Broncbusters got a run back in the fourth when Jake Barber smashed a lead-off triple; then scored when catcher Ethan Bergkamp misplayed reliever Conner Kessler's fastball that skipped back to the screen. In the sixth, Brenden Andersen singled home Sean Klein before Lara struck again.
The sophomore took freshman Hunter Kirby's 2-1 pitch and deposited it over the scoreboard in left, knocking in two to put the Broncbusters up 10-2.
"That's two times we've put Chris in and he's done the job," Finnegan said.
Garden City enforced the run rule in the eighth, scoring on Lara's fifth RBI of the day and Johnson's double to left. Luis Padilla then worked a 1-2-3 bottom half, giving the Broncbusters their first conference win of the season.
Escobar-Winter picked up his first win of the year, allowing two runs on three hits in four innings while striking out three. Lara finished 3-for-5 at the plate, and Barber was 3-for-4 with a run scored.
Dodge City starter Jake Hewson dropped to 1-1, never getting out of the first, giving up six runs on four hits.
Next up: Garden City vs. Dodge City-Sunday, March 17-12:45 p.m. pregame; 1 p.m. first pitch on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app