By Mike Pilosof
Pratt, KS-In Central and Western Kansas, no lead is safe. Howling winds turn afternoon baseball games into an adventure.
And despite nearly falling victim to mother nature, Garden City stayed the course, earning their first conference sweep of the season.
Corbin Truslow and Chris Lara fueled a six-run first inning with home runs, Ryan Nason picked up his second win of the season, and the Broncbuters put away Pratt 16-12 Sunday afternoon at Stanion Field.
"I'd say I'm surprised at the final score, but I'd be lying," Finnegan said with a smile. "You just knew what was going to happen with the way the weather was."
Things couldn't have started off any better for Garden City.
In the first, the Broncbusters rocked Pratt starter Ky Hampton. Turner McDonald laced a leadoff single, and Truslow powered a two-run shot over wall in right-center to make it 2-0. The inning continued for Sean Klein, who reached on an error by shortstop Elerie Rivera. Dakota Finley walked, and Brock Johnson singled home a run. That was the prelude to Chris Lara, who with one thunderous swing, made Ky Hampton pay with a fastball over the plate that landed well over the wall in right for a three-run blast and a 6-0 advantage.
"On a day like this, you just have to keep scoring," Finnegan said. "Crazy things can happen."
After Pratt scored two runs in their half of the first, Garden City went for the throat in the second. With one out, Truslow and Klein singled. Finley then lasered a 1-0 fastball from Hampton to left that resulted in a two-run triple, Brenden Andersen followed with a run-scoring single, and Garden City was in command 9-2.
Or so they thought.
Pratt answered with three in the second, spearheaded by Jack Partington's RBI double. In the fourth, Partington doubled again, and Dylan Hamilton brought him around with an extra base hit to left. Two batters later, former Garden City Buffalo Raymond Urrutia snapped out of a 1-for-26 slump with a two-run triple down the left-field line that sliced the Broncbuster lead to 9-8.
"We stopped executing the game plan when they made their run," Finnegan explained. "We had to get back to what we do."
Garden City stretched their lead back to two when Brunson slapped an RBI single in the fifth. But the Beavers tied the game in the home half. Partington, who finished with a season-high four hits, singled home Rivera before Sean Johnson's sac fly tied the game.
The Broncbusters regained the advantage momentarily in the top of the sixth. McDonald led off with a triple, and Trulslow brought him home with a sac fly to make it 11-10. But the breath of fresh air was short lived.
With runners at the corners and one out in the bottom of the seventh, Dylan Hamilton's sac fly scored one before Johnson collected his first hit of the day: an RBI triple that put Pratt on top 12-11.
"I wasn't worried, and I don't say that to sound cocky," Finnegan said. "I just knew, if we did what we were supposed to, we would get it back."
The Broncbusters did just that in the eighth.
Truslow doubled off Partington to start things off. Klein was hit by a pitch, and Finley moved the runners over with a sac bunt. Anderson then took the first pitch he saw and poked it into centerfield, scoring two and putting Garden City in front for good. Later in the inning, Jake Barber legged out an infield single that plated two more, and the Broncbusters were up 16-12.
"It feels good to get these four, it really does," Finnegan said. "But now we have to keep it going. I've said it that we have to be better in carrying things over."
Luis Padilla worked a scoreless eighth and ninth, retiring all six batters he faced, and Garden City won for the fifth time in their last six games.
Darrian Escobar-Winter only lasted 1.1 innings for Garden City, who allowed five runs on seven hits. Miguel Ramos followed by surrendering two runs on three hits in 2.1 innings, Jacob Douglas yielded two runs in two innings, and Nason gave up two runs on one hit-working the seventh.
Partington took the loss for Pratt, giving up six runs on five hits in 2.2 innings. Hampton, who allowed nine runs on 10 hits, bounced back nicely in the middle of the game, and at one point, retired 10 straight Broncbuster hitters.
Next up: Garden City at Seward-Thursday, April 12-2:45 p.m. pregame; 3 p.m. first pitch on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app