By Mike Pilosof
Photo by Adam Shrimplin
El Dorado, KS-Butler hasn't won an outright conference title in nearly 30 years. And while that tradition continued on Saturday, the Grizzlies don't mind settling for a tie atop the West standings.
Javier Pena and Noah Argenta each went yard, starter David Henderson held the Broncbusters scoreless, and Butler polished off a sweep of the Broncbusters with an 8-3 victory in game four Saturday afternoon at McDonald Park. The Grizzlies finished the regular season tied with Hutchinson at 22-10, earning the No. 1 seed. Garden City closed at 26-25 overall and 12-20 in conference, drawing the No. 7 seed and setting up a showdown with East No. 2 Johnson County next weekend in the first round of the Region VI tournament.
The Broncbusters' troubles began in the first inning again. Following an error by Griffin Brunson at third, Joshua Cox hit a sacrifice fly to make it 1-0. In the third, the Grizzlies put two on with one out before Pena devoured Ryan Nason's breaking ball, smashing it over the right-field wall for a 3-0 advantage. Pena added an RBI single in the fifth, Parker Base clubbed a run-scoring base hit, and Colby Standard chipped in an RBI fielder's choice to give the home team a six-run advantage.
It only got worse from there.
Argenta homered to begin the sixth. And after the Broncbusters got a run back in the top of the seventh, the Grizzlies stretched the lead back to seven when Grant Lathrop misplayed a ball in left field. It was the culmination of a season-long issue for Garden City, one that at times, has had Head Coach Chris Finnegan perplexed.
"We have had a tough defensive year," he said. "It's been the same issues all season long."
Garden City managed to score a couple of runs late in the game. Sean Klein was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the eighth, and Lathrop added an RBI groundout in the ninth. But all in all, it ended a disappointing weekend for Garden City, one in which the Broncbusters collected a grand total of 15 hits in four games.
Nason made his first start of the year for Garden City, giving up two earned runs on four hits in four innings. He gave way to the bullpen, with the combination of Emmnuel Nunez, Paxton Robinson, Miguel Ramos and Luis Padilla giving up 4 four runs and a homer.
Meantime Henderson was hit and miss for Butler, striking out five while walking five hitters. He surrendered just two hits.
Next up: Garden City at Johnson County (Region VI 1st Round; best 2-out-of-3)-Dates TBA; Times TBA on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwk and KWKR mobile app