By Mike Pilosof
Garden City, KS-Since Becky Gundy went to a new lineup, her team is 3-0.
Add two more wins on Saturday.
Erica Vessels homered in game one, the Broncbusters overcame a late deficit in game two, and Garden City swept Pratt 7-5 and 12-11 at Tangeman Sports Complex.
"Game two was definitely something that I think we needed to show ourselves that we could come back," Gundy said.
Mission accomplished. But before the comeback, Garden City rode the back of Samantha Akers in the opener. The sophomore pitched a masterpiece over the first four innings, limiting the Beavers to just one run on three hits, all while her offense gave her a cushion to work with.
Vessels belted a two-run bomb in the first, the Broncbusters took advantage of a throwing error in the third to score a run, and Bailee Muxlow-Volk singled home Taylore Hartman in the fourth before coming around on another Pratt miscue for a 5-1 edge.
"Sam gave us a great game in the circle in game one," Gundy said.
After Pratt scored a run in the top of the fifth, the Broncbusters came right back in the bottom half. Muxlow-Volk singled home Ariel Denney, and Devin Hernandez's bunt single scored Denney from third to make it 7-2.
The Beavers made things interesting with a run in the sixth before adding two more in the seventh. But with the bases loaded and two outs, Akers was stellar, getting Monica Courville to pop out to Vessels at short, giving Garden City a two-run victory.
"Our hitters really did a good job all day," Gundy said.
Akers recorded her fifth win of the season in the circle going seven strong, allowing three earned runs on 10 hits. She threw just 91 pitches, while Vessels and Muxlow-Volk combined to go 5-for-8 at the plate with four RBI.
Pratt starter Kaylan Garcia allowed five runs on five hits in four innings. Ariana Perales tossed two innings of relief, surrendering two runs.
There was a little more anxiety in game two.
The Beavers scored six runs in the second inning, powered by Katie Otto's two-run homer off of Marissa Montiel.
The Broncbusters rallied with two runs in the bottom half, which started when Jessy Ortiz drew a bases-loaded walk. That was followed up with an error on third baseman Michelle Castillo that cut the Pratt lead to 6-2. An inning later, Garden City tied the score. Muxlow-Volk, Hernandez and Dilley ripped consecutive RBI doubles, and Garden City took advantage of another miscue by the Beavers to draw even 6-6.
Pratt grabbed the lead back in the fourth when Castillo hit a hot shot that Ortiz booted at third allowing MaKenzie Anderson to come around. But the Broncbusters answered with two of their own in the bottom of the frame. Hartman doubled home Vessels, and Muxlow-Volk slapped an RBI single to give Garden City the lead 8-7.
"That's not normally how you want to win a game, but I think it's something that we definitely needed," Gundy said.
The back and forth contest roared on in the top of the fifth when the Beavers grabbed the equalizer on Marisa Jones' solo home run off Denney. They then jumped in front on Muxlow-Volk's error in right that allowed two runs to score to give Pratt a 10-8 advantage.
"This game proved that no matter how far we get down, we can come back," Gundy said.
Vessels made it a one-run game in the fifth with an RBI single before Hernandez tied the game again with a two-run single in the bottom of the sixth. A few batters later, Hannah Adams reached on Jonas's error behind the plate, allowing Hernandez to score the go-ahead run. Kelsey Ray followed with a sac fly, and Garden City was up 12-10.
The Beavers gave the Broncbusters some more anxious moments in the top of the seventh. With one out, Garcia belted an RBI single to center. Then, with the tying run at first with only one out, Akers put the game on ice, striking out Anderson and getting Castillo to ground out.
Akers picked up her second win of the day, tossing two innings of solid relief. Montiel, who started the game, lasted just 1.2 innings, giving up six runs on five hits. Muxlow-Volk recorded another multi-hit game with two knocks, and Hernandez was 3-of-4 with two RBI.
Perales took the loss for Pratt, giving up six runs on five hits.
Next up: Garden City at Seward County-Wednesday, March 21-2 p.m. and 4 p.m.