By Mike Pilosof
Photo by Adam Shrimplin
Colby, KS-Logan Hofmann may win player of the year in the Jayhawk Conference. His one-hit shutout in game one epitomized his dominant season.
But the Trojans' game 4 starter, Nathan Stark, is not Hofmann; no offense to him-not many people are. Although he, and what was a struggling bullpen, did their best imitation, completely silencing Garden City's bats all game long.
Matthew Coutney ripped his second homer of the series, Colby Coach Ryan Carter pieced together a dominant pitching display, led by Stark, Kyle Bloor and Ethan Francis, the three of which held Garden City to just one hit through seven innings, and the Trojans finished off the series win with a 9-4 victory in game four Saturday afternoon at Young-Memorial Field. Colby is now tied with Hutchinson atop the Jayhawk West at 16-8, setting up a massive showdown next week.
"We just couldn't get anything going," Finnegan said. "We couldn't hit anything."
Stark was far from overpowering, falling behind 3-0 on several different occasions in the first three innings. But he never really faltered, leaving the game with one out in the third having not surrendered a single hit.
Trailing 2-0 in the fourth, and with the Trojans' starter on the bench, Garden City had their best opportunity to blow the game open. The Broncbusters loaded the bases with only one out. When Bloor entered the game, he immediately walked in a run, making it 2-1. But that's all Garden City was afforded. Chris Lara struck out swinging, and Alec Eskenazi flied out harmlessly to center to end the threat.
"That's the game in a nutshell," Finnegan said. "We have the bases loaded and we score only one time."
From there, Garden failed to produce a baserunner for the next three innings. Bloor retired the next eight batters he faced, giving way to Francis in the seventh, who erased the first two he saw before issuing a two-out walk to Eskenazi.
"We have to find a way to be consistent," Finnegan said. "Sometimes we are really good, and other times we are really bad. But we have to find a way to win games when we are not playing our best. I think our guys are waiting for the other team to make a mistake. We can't play like that."
Those mistakes never came, and Colby turned one-run game into a runaway starting in the fifth.
Rhys Cornell led off with a single, and Cameron Tilly lofted a run-scoring base hit to left-center. Jason Evans added an RBI groundout, and the Trojans were up 4-1. An inning later, against Damian Acosta, Colby opened the floodgates. The freshman hurler gave up back-to-back walks, Enok Perez singled home one, and Coutney cranked a two-run homer to left-center, stretching the Colby lead to 8-1.
"Damian has been really good for us," Finnegan said. "But today, it's like he forgot what he was doing. He issues those walks and then gives up a homer."
The Broncbusters finally awoke in the ninth, scratching three runs across against reliever Blake Gallagher. But it was too little, too late, as Garden City lost for the sixth time in their last eight conference games.
Bloor picked up the win in relief for Colby, holding Garden City to just one hit over 2.2 innings. Coutney tied a season-high with three hits, and Perez and Tilley drove in a pair of runs.
Garden City was limited to just four hits, three of which came over the final two innings. Jordan Yates took the loss, allowing two runs on three hits in 2.1 innings.
Next up: Garden City at Cloud County-Thrusday, April 25-1:45 p.m. pregame; 2 p.m. first pitch on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app