By Mike Pilosof
Dodge City, KS-Garden City was on the doorstep of advancing to the second round of the Region VI Tournament. But Barton County had the last word.
Morgan Michaelis ripped a walk-off double to center, and the Cougars beat the Broncbusters 5-4 Friday afternoon, pushing Garden City into a win-or-go-home situation Saturday morning. The Cougars advanced to play Butler Saturday afternoon.
Barton County scored first in the opening inning when Ariel Denny's miscue in left allowed two runs to come home. But Garden City fought back in the second, thanks to Hannah Adams, who slapped a run-scoring double to slice the Cougars lead in half. Three batters later, Carly Ochoa hit a two-RBI single, and the Broncbusters had a 3-2 edge.
It stayed that way until the fourth, when Erica Vessels got a hold of Emma Horsch's breaking ball, and parked it over the fence in left.
Meantime, Akers kept Garden City in front. In the fourth, she worked around a one-out single, getting a strikeout, a force out and a fly out. But in the fifth, she surrendered back-to-back base hits to Kristin Storer and Alexis Sharples. Kat Frakes followed with an RBI double, and the game was all even at 4. Akers though did damage control, and got out of the inning with two strikeouts and a force out.
In the sixth, Garden City couldn't take advantage of a two-on, two-out opportunity. With runners at first and second, Alyssa Dilley struck out looking to end the threat.
Barton County went down in order in the bottom half, and Garden City did the same in the top of the seventh. But in the Cougars seventh, Hailey Pop hit a line-drive single to right. That setup Michaelis, who drilled a double to centerfield, scoring Pop from first, and pushing Barton County into round two.
Horsch picked up the win in the circle, allowing four runs on nine hits. She threw 127 pitches and struck out four. Frakes knocked in two, and seven of the nine Cougar hitters collected at least one hit.
Akers took the loss, surrendering three earned runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings. Ochoa drove in two runs, and Bailee Muxlow-Volk and Adams each had two hits.
Next up: Garden City vs. Pratt-Saturday, April 28-9 a.m. CDT