By Mike Pilosof
Photo by Adam Shrimplin
Garden City, KS-After starting slow offensively in game one, Garden City didn't wait to pounce on suspect Pratt pitching.
Brenden Andersen drove in three runs, five Broncbusters collected multi-hit games, and Garden City doubled up the Beavers 10-5 in game two of their four-game series Wednesday afternoon at Williams Stadium.
"We have proven we can do this on any given day," Head Coach Chris Finnegan said. "But can we turn around and do it again on Saturday? That's the key."
One fundamental principle got the Broncbusters jumpstarted in the first.
With runners at first and third, Sean Klein stole second base. It was so subtle; teams do it all the time. But by swiping second, the threat of a groundball double play was taken out of the equation. With the infield back at normal depth, Dakota Finley slapped a single up the middle, scoring two runs. But if Klein never stole second, that same ball that rolled into center, could have been an inning-ending twin killing.
"That's the type of stuff that we did early in the season when we were winning games," Finnegan said. "That's who we are."
Finley's two-run single; coupled with Dalton Huggins' wild pitch, plated another run, giving Garden City an early 3-0 advantage.
Meantime Huggins continued to labor, and in the third, Garden City tagged him for two more. With runners at the corners again, Griffin Brunson smacked a hard ground ball up the middle that scored Brock Johnson from third. The next batter, Jake Barber, made it 11-straight games with a hit, when he drove Huggins' fastball to center, putting the Broncbusters up 5-0. Barber was tagged out trying to leg out a double.
"We got some good swings today; a lot of barrels," Finnegan said. "And that's good. We got guys in and moved them across. That's something we couldn't do on Sunday."
It also helped that Malachi Crone turned in another solid outing. The freshman, who was pitching in the wake of his grandmother's death, yielded just one hit through three innings. In the fourth, he worked out of a two-on, two-out jam when he got Brenden Tauber to ground into a 5-4 force.
Pratt finally scratched a couple of runs across in the fifth. Jack Partington tripled; then scored when a routine groundball went through Brunson's legs at short. Landon Hulet followed with a two-out, RBI single, and the Beavers were within three, 5-2.
But every Beaver score was answered by the Broncbusters, who scored two of their own in the home half of the fifth when Barber cleared the bases with a two-run triple to make it 7-2.
"We put some nice things together," Finnegan said. "Now, we have to do it again."
The Beavers eventually chased Crone from the game in the sixth, putting together four straight singles, including Partington's RBI base hit that that sliced the Broncbusters' lead to 7-3. Finnegan quickly made the switch to Andrew Sumner, who thought he was home free when he got Sean Johnson to roll a ball to third. But Finley booted it, and Elerie Rivera scored to cut the lead to three.
"We should have been out of that inning," Finnegan said. "But we found a way to get that third out. That happened way too much today. We gave them way too many free bases."
The error did not come back to haunt Garden City. Instead, they scored two more in the sixth on Andersen's two-run single before tallying an insurance run in the eighth on Anderson's sac fly. Luis Padilla then worked a scoreless ninth, and the Broncbusters moved to within two games of the .500 mark.
Crone improved to 4-1, giving up three earned runs on nine hits over 5.2 innings for Garden City. Truslow was 2-for-4 at the plate, Klein finished 2-for-5 with three runs scored, and Finley added two more hits to a day that saw him collect five.
Huggins lasted only three innings for Pratt, giving up five runs on six hits.
Next up: Garden City at Pratt-Saturday, April 6-12:45 p.m. pregame; 1 p.m. first pitch on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app