By Mike Pilosof
Photo by Adam Shrimplin
Garden City, KS-After losing the first two games of the series at home, Cloud County evened the score on Saturday, putting together their best offensive stretch of the season.
Connor Laux collected a season-best four hits, Jackson Dietel pitched seven strong innings, and the Thunderbirds toppled Garden City 12-7 in the series finale at Williams Stadium.
"It's a miracle we were ever in this game," Broncbuster Head Coach Chris Finnegan said afterwards. "We just killed ourselves all day."
Midway through their blowout loss in game three, Finnegan approached Jacob Douglas about starting game four.
"Jacob knew, regardless off the outcome, that we were going to him to try and get something done in the last game," Finnegan said.
And the results were promising to start. Douglas worked around a one-out single in the first and retired the Thunderbirds in order in the second. But Cloud County got to him in the third when Sean Klein booted a ball at second before Laux ripped a run-scoring single to put the road squad up 1-0.
After Garden City tied the game in the home half on Corbin Truslow's RBI double, the Thunderbirds found their groove in the fourth. With the bases loaded, Griffen Larsen singled home a run, Ramon Vingochea doubled home two, Alex Rice knocked in another on an infield single, and Laux added an RBI base hit to make it 6-1.
"We get a run back and then give up five," Finnegan said. "We keep doing the same thing."
Damian Acosta was called upon to pitch the fifth. But the freshman surrendered a solo jack to Tylor Jans, whose first career home run put the Thunderbirds on top 7-1.
"We've got to get these guys right," Finnegan said. "We've had a problem with consistency all year."
Garden City rallied back in the bottom of the fifth. Davis Pratt's throwing error at third allowed one run to score, Jake Barber hit a sacrifice fly, and Corbin Truslow cranked a two-run homer to right, slicing Cloud County's lead to 7-4.
"We got back within three, and then we gave up more," Finnegan said. "You can't win games when you are continuously handing them back runs."
Cloud County put the game away in the sixth thanks to three more Garden City errors; compounded with a wild pitch that helped the Thunderbirds produced four runs on just two hits to make it 11-4.
The Broncbusters managed to get two runs back in the seventh on Truslow's RBI groundout, and Sean Klein's double to left. But the Thunderbirds tacked on some insurance in the eighth when Laux singled home a run with two outs.
Douglas suffered his third loss of the year, tagged for five earned runs on eight hits in 3.1 innings. He was one of seven different pitchers used in game four.
Dietel picked up the win for Cloud County, scattering seven hits in seven innings. He struck out four.
Next up: Garden City vs. Butler, Thursday, May 2-12:45 p.m. pregame; 1 p.m. first pitch on 99.9 FM; https://streamdb5web.securenetsystems.net/v5/KWKR and KWKR mobile app