By Mike Pilosof
Photo By Adam Shrimplin
Garden City, KS-There was one common theme from game four that doomed the Broncbusters: men left on base.
Garden City stranded 14 baserunners, Zane Schmidt cranked his nation leading 13th homer of the season, and Hutchinson took the final game of the series 9-8 Sunday afternoon at Williams Stadium.
"We had no problems getting guys on base," Finnegan said. "We just couldn't get a hit. We had plenty of opportunities. We just needed one hit."
Garden City finished the day 3-of-20 with runners in scoring position and were a combined 8-of-36 at the plate (.222). In fact, they went the final four innings without scratching out a single hit.
"We were just one hit away," Finnegan said. "And I'm not talking about splitting the gap. I'm just talking about a single up the middle. We left the bases loaded; we had guys at second and third. It was that way all game long."
Hutchinson stepped on the gas early in this one. Will Reetz led off the game with a walk, and two batters later, Schmidt ripped a two-run bomb over the wall in right-center. There was no doubt once it left his bat.
"We made some mistakes in game two, but for the most part, we beat ourselves," Finnegan said.
In the second, the Blue Dragons stretched the lead to 4-0 when Reetz powered a two-run triple to the gap in right-center.
But what looked like an early blowout totally changed course in the bottom of the second. Garden City sent 10 men to the plate, scratched out five hits and scored five runs. Chris Lara hit an RBI single, Jake Barber smoked a ball to center that plated one, and Sean Klein laced a two-run single to center that gave the Broncbusters a 5-4 advantage. That last hit, chased started Mike Brown, who lasted just 1.2 innings, giving up five runs on five hits while walking two.
"Even when we scored those runs, we could have done more," Finnegan said. "
He was dead on with that assessment. Once reliever Ryan Summers took over, he immediately issued a walk to Dakota Finely to load the bases. With a chance to break the game open, Alec Eskenazi struck out swinging to end the inning.
Hutchinson regained their footing in the third. Ryan Moritz cracked a two-out, run-scoring double to tie the game. Then in the fifth, Dylan Nedved added an RBI double before scoring when reliever Jacob Douglas got Zion Bowlin in a rundown between first and second. But Nedved came home before Klein tagged Bowlin out, giving the Blue Dragons a 7-5 lead.
After Garden City got a run back in the fifth on a bases-loaded walk, Hutchinson pushed their advantage back to two when Finley overthrew Lara at first, resulting in a two-base error that pushed Zach Baxley across for an 8-6 cushion. They made it 9-6 an inning later once Moritz bounced into a double play that allowed Schmidt to score from third.
"There are so many things that we didn't do in that second game," Finnegan said. "We didn't get two sacrifice bunts down; we couldn't get a hit, and yet we only lost by one. When you lose games by one or two, that's on the coaches. We have to be better."
Garden City got back in the game in the seventh. After hard-throwing righty Matt Hopkins intentionally walked Corbin Truslow, Klein rolled into what should have been an inning-ending double play. But Dylan Nedved dropped the ball on the flip from Logan Sartori, allowing two runs to score, making it a one-run game. But with the tying run at second and only one out, Finley and Eskenazi struck out swinging.
In the eighth, the Broncbusters again got the tying run on, but couldn't push them across. Lara bunted a third strike foul, and Barber waved at strike three. In the ninth, Truslow drew a one-out walk only to watch Klein and Finely strike out to end the game.
Ryan Summers got the win for Hutchinson, tossing three innings of three-hit ball.
Next up: Garden City vs. Pratt-Thursday, April 4-12:45 p.m. pregame; 1 p.m. first pitch on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app