By Mike Pilosof
Goodland, KS-Erica Vessels will remember this one for a long time.
Batting in the leadoff spot, the sophomore belted five home runs, her team smashed eight of them combined, and Garden City destroyed Northwest Kansas Tech 14-2 and 13-2 on Saturday afternoon.
The home run derby began in the first inning of game one. Vessels homered on the first pitch she saw, Taylore Hartman followed two hitters later with a long ball, and Garden City (18-16, 6-8) had a 2-0 lead.
After Northwest Tech (7-15, 2-8) sliced the lead in half in the bottom of the first, Vessels went back to work in the second, hammering a three-run shot over the centerfield wall for a 5-1 advantage. Ariel Denney added an RBI single in the frame before Vessels smoked another three-run blast in the third that pushed the lead to 9-1.
An inning later, Angel Jimenez singled home a run, and Vessels drilled her fourth long ball of the day: a three-run knock that put the Broncbusters up 13-1. Pinch hitter Kelsey Ray drove in Garden City's 14th run in the fifth on an RBI groundout before Akers limited the Mavericks to one run in the bottom half. She ended the game by getting Alexis Perez to pop out, inducing the run rule.
Vessels finished the contest 4-for-4 at the plate, four homers and 10 RBI. Denney, Hannah Adams, Devin Hernandez, and Jimenez each collected two hits, and Akers allowed just one earned run while striking out four. She threw just 87 pitches.
Game two was an encore of the opener.
Hernandez smoked an RBI single in the second, Jessy Ortiz scorched a grand two batters later, and Garden City had a 5-0 lead. Hartman added an RBI double before Denney hit a sac fly to push it to 7-0.
Jimenez led off the third with a solo jack, and Vessels hit her fifth homer of the day in the fourth: a two-run bomb that gave Becky Gundy's squad a 12-0 edge.
In all, Garden City mashed eight home runs, collected 33 hits and scored 27 times. It was their most convincing sweep of the season.
Vessels was 3-for-4 at the plate with a homer and three RBI, Denney knocked in two, and Jimenez was 3-for-4. Denney pitched five strong, striking out eight and allowed five hits.
Next up: Garden City at Butler-Wednesday, April 4-2 p.m. and 4 p.m.