By Mike Pilosof
Photo by Adam Shrimplin
Colby, KS-Following Friday's game-two win, Garden City Coach Chris Finnegan warned his team about the series shifting to Colby.
"That field plays like a popcorn machine," he said. "We have to be ready."
Garden City was game for five innings, going toe-to-toe with one of the best offensive clubs in the league. But one fatal inning, coupled with two fatal swings, left the Broncbusters wondering what could have been.
The Trojans used a six-run sixth inning, Alex Orenczuk finished a single shy of the cycle, and Colby pushed past Garden City 13-8 in game three Saturday afternoon at Young-Memorial Field.
"It's really the same story," Finnegan said. "The free bases are killing us. And Connery (O'Donnell) wasn't very good to start the game. I don't know what's going on there."
O'Donnell may not have been sharp, but neither was Colby starter Tyler McWillie, who was tossing up grapefruits to the Broncbusters in the top of the first. Corbin Truslow slapped a one-out single, Chris Lara lined an RBI base hit to left-center, Dakota Finley doubled home a run, and Brenden Andersen hit a sacrifice fly to put Garden City up 3-0.
"I thought we came out ready and aggressive from the start," Finnegan said.
The problem was that Garden City could never hold the lead.
In the home half, O'Donnell got rocked. Enok Perez and Coutney ripped back-to-back doubles, Cameron Tilly added an RBI single, and Orenczuk smacked a two-run, extra base-hit to put Colby ahead 4-3.
"We're just giving it back," Finnegan said. "That's the frustrating part, because we played well enough, offensively, to win the game."
The seesaw affair continued in the top of the second. With one on and two outs, Sean Klein lofted a ball over the wall in left field, just inside the foul pole. After a momentary pause by the home-plate umpire, the freshman was awarded his third home run of the season. But it didn't come without controversy as Colby Coach Ryan Carter raced out of the dugout, arguing that it was a foul ball.
"He (Klein) hit that home run, and we go back on top," Finnegan said. "But we have to hold them."
O'Donnell did that for the moment, working through his only 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the second. But trouble was waiting for him in the Trojans third. The freshman plunked Coutney and Tilley to begin the frame; then issued a walk to Tucker Zdunich. With the sacks full, O'Donnell missed high on a 3-2 fastball, pushing across the tying run. The next batter, Laz Osayande, who was only in the lineup because of a few late scratches before the game started, singled to center, putting Colby back in front 6-5.
"We are worn out on the mound," Finnegan said. "Our guys are throwing 25 pitches an inning, and a lot of that is on them, but some of it is on the defense behind them."
Garden City reclaimed the lead in the fifth. Andersen reached on an infield single before coming around on a wild pitch. Later in the inning, Turner McDonald followed with a run-scoring single to make it 7-6. But Colby again tied it in the bottom half when Orenczuk cranked a one-out triple to right-center.
Garden City went ahead one more time in the sixth. Truslow singled, and after Chris Lara bounced into a 4-6-3 double play, Finley drove him home for an 8-7 cushion.
But the bottom of the inning was Garden City's undoing. The Trojans sent nine men to the plate against Jacob Douglas, who served up the game-tying home run to Rhys Cornell to begin the frame. Four batters later, Jason Evans singled home a run followed by Zdunich's RBI base hit. But the crushing blow came off the bat of Orenczuk, who put the game on ice with a three-run homer to left-center, giving Colby a 13-8 lead.
"The crazy thing is that either we are really, really good or we've been really, really bad," Finnegan explained. "There really has been a middle ground for us."
The Trojans finished with 12 hits, marking the 22nd time that Garden City pitching has allowed 10 or more this season. Orencuzk, finished 3-for-3 at the plate with a career-best seven RBI. Evans and Perez also collected multi-hit games.
Douglas dropped his third game of the season, allowing three runs on three hits in one inning. Truslow finished 2-for-3 at the dish, and Klein and Finley each drove in two.