By Mike Pilosof
Photo by Adam Shrimplin
Garden City, KS-It was one of those days where everything that could go wrong did.
The Broncbusters committed a season-high six errors and walked a season-worst 11 batters, culminating in their most lopsided loss of the year: a 22-2 defeat to Cloud County Saturday afternoon at Williams Stadium.
"It was just bad," Head Coach Chris Finnegan said. "Our pitching wasn't good at all, and our defense was just bad. When you give teams the amount of free bases that we did, from hitting guys to walking and then the errors, you're not going to win."
Connery O'Donnell, who was coming off two subpar starts, got into some real trouble right off the bat. After getting Alex Rice to ground out to begin the game, the freshman had problems with command. He walked Connor Laux and Clayton Loranger before Dakota Finley's fielding error loaded the bases. Kade Wallace followed with a sacrifice fly, Davis Pratt singled home a run, and Tylor Jans smashed a two-run double to the gap to put the Thunderbirds up 4-0.
"The way we played today makes Thursday's wins mean nothing," Finnegan said.
The game really got away from Garden City in the third. O'Donnell issued another free pass to Jackson Dietel to start the frame; then Wallace whacked a single to right-center. Moments later, Dietel came home when Chris Lara dropped a ball at first. Three batters after that, O'Donnell's day came to an end when he walked Ramon Vingochea with the bases loaded. Finnegan then replaced his starter with Miguel Ramos, who immediately allowed an RBI single to Alex Rice. Loranger drew a walk with the sacks full, and Dietel smacked a two-run single to make it 10-0. When Ramos finally got Wallace to line out to center to retire the side, the Thunderbirds had sent 11 guys to the plate and scored six runs; all on just three hits.
"It's frustrating when you keep giving your opponent free opportunities to score," Finnegan said. "We keep beating ourselves."
The following inning was even worse.
Cloud County took advantage of three more Broncbuster errors, scoring nine runs on just one hit. And the Thunderbirds nearly batted around twice in in the inning.
"I can put a thumb on a lot of things," Finnegan said. "But it is what it is right now."
Leading 19-0, Cloud County added three more runs in the fifth. Wallace reached on another error, and Jans doubled home a pair, putting a cap on an offensive day in which the Thunderbirds fell just three runs shy of tying their single-game school record.
Meantime for the Broncbusters, their only offense came in the fifth. Jake Barber had an RBI groundout, and Garden City scored on a Cloud County error. But the home team produced just four hits all day.
Josh Laukkanen picked up the win for the Thunderbirds, giving up two runs on four hits in five innings.
O'Donnell left after just 2.1 innings, yielding nine runs on three hits while walking a season-high six.