By Mike Pilosof
Garden City, KS-During his freshman season, Corbin Truslow established himself as one of the best power hitters in the Jayhawk Conference. In year two, he's just perfecting that resume.
The sophomore delivered again in the clutch, ripping a walk-off single down the first-base line as Garden City completed another comeback, storming back from five runs down to beat Otero 6-5 Tuesday afternoon at Williams Stadium.
"Winning games like this shows us that these guys like to compete," Head Coach Chris Finnegan said. "They like to make things interesting."
Making his second start of the season, southpaw Jordan Yates struggled with consistency, and the Rattlers made him pay dearly in the first.
Tyler Scheler, Lucas Kaber and Bailey Benz began the game with three straight singles off the freshman to make it 1-0. Two batters later, Kaber scored on a passed ball, and Greg Garcia slapped a run-scoring single to put Otero up 3-0.
"You can't keep living on the edge," Finnegan said. "I mean, we went into the seventh inning with just one hit."
Benz added his second and third RBI of the day in the fifth. With two on and one out, the sophomore pounced on the first offering from reliefer Miguel Ramos and laced a hotshot single into center, scoring Lucas Watson and Scheler, stretching the Rattlers advantage to 5-0.
"I thought we got outplayed for the most part," Finnegan said. "I thought Otero did a great job on the mound today."
Starter Javier Saenz did not allow a hit in two innings. Then the bullpen, consisting of Ian Conlin, Zach Thomas, and Edwing Corrales, completely handcuffed Garden City.
But the sixth inning was a different story.
Facing reliever Austin Martindale, Garden City (17-9, 3-5) finally sprung to life. Dyan Rodriguez drew a leadoff walk, Jake Barber was hit by a pitch, and Turner McDonald took a free pass to load the bases. Moments later, Rodriguez charged in from third on a wild pitch to get the Broncbusters on the board. After Sean Klein bounced into a 6-4-3 double play, Garden City took advantage of a bases-loaded walk to Dakota Finley and another wild pitch that allowed Truslow to trot home, slicing the Rattlers' lead to 5-3.
"Our guys just kept playing," Finnegan said. "In the end, that's really all you can ask them to do."
While Garden City was on the comeback trail, the bullpen stopped Otero dead in their tracks. Andrew Sumner worked a scoreless seventh and Connery O'Donnell allowed just one hit in the eighth before inducing back-to-back groundouts to end the inning.
In the meantime, the Broncbusters continued to chip away. In the seventh, Klein drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 5-4. An inning later, Colin Stone cranked a two-out double to center before Chris Lara drove him home with a base hit to left.
Once Jacob Douglas got out of a two-on, one-out jam in the top of the ninth, the Broncbusters seized control in the bottom of the stanza. Barber connected on a one-out single, McDonald hit a line-drive base hit to center, and Klein drew a walk to fill the sacks. That set the table for Truslow, who drove a 3-1 pitch down the first-base line for the game winner.
Jacob Douglas picked up his third win in his last three relief appearances, throwing 15 pitches to do so. Lara collected two of Garden City's six hits, and the Broncbusters won for the fourth time in their last five games.
Gerlin Cruz-Perez was the losing pitcher, allowing two runs on five hits in 1.1 innings.
Next up: Garden City at Hutchinson-Thursday, March 28-12:45 p.m. pregame; 1 p.m. first pitch on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app