Garden City Community Colleges baseball team enters the Region VI tournament first round series this weekend as the overall No. 6 seed, which means the Busters take on the overall No. 11 seed in the 16-team bracket.

This year, that turns out to be the Fort Scott Greyhounds, who visit Williams Stadium for a best-of-3 series with the Busters, beginning with a doubleheader at 1 p.m. Saturday, followed by, if necessary, a 1 p.m. deciding game Sunday.

But that No. 11 seed by the Greyhounds is deceiving, as the club is not only 36-19 overall (18-18 in the Jayhawk East), but they are in the top eight of the region in both staff ERA (5.83) and runs scored per game (7.72). The Busters (41-14, 21-11), meanwhile, won their most regular season games since 2009, and are third in the conference in runs per game (9.22) and fourth in staff ERA (5.02).

I think well have our hands full, GCCC head coach Chris Finnegan said of the Busters opponent. I think weve got to be prepared to play. Theyll run two, three guys at us on the mound who are good, who have beaten good teams this year.

At .500 in conference, the Greyhounds finished tied for fifth in the East Division, losing a tiebreaker to Allen County to fall to the Easts sixth seed. But that record comes against some of the best teams in the country, including being swept by former No. 1-ranked Neosho County.

It shows you how good that side of the conference is, Finnegan said of the East. You look at Neosho, theyve got unbelievable numbers. You have Cowley, Johnson (County) and KCK, and theyre always good.

Those are the top four teams in the Easts standings, with a combined record of 163-59 overall.

Your top four teams right there can beat anybody in the country, no questions asked, Finnegan said.

And Fort Scott is liable to pull off an upset seeding-wise this weekend, as well, he said.

I think its going to be a three-game set, the 12th-year skipper said. I think its two really good teams hooking it up. I think its two teams offensive-wise that can really hurt you. I think its two pitching staffs that can get some outs and I think its two defenses that can do enough to limit scoring chances.

The Busters will start this years unquestioned ace, Noah Draper, in the opener. The sophomore right-hander is 7-1 with a 2.10 ERA tops for starters in the Jayhawk and 87 strikeouts in 64.1 innings. In games Draper has appeared (12 starts), the Busters are 13-1.

The Greyhounds will likely counter with Ryan McCollough, who is 7-3 with a 4.43 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 65 innings. His last outing was a complete game shutout win over Johnson County on April 29.

In Game 2, the Busters have tabbed Conner Burns, the freshman right-hander with a 4-1 record and a 3.76 ERA. Hes struck out 70 in 69.1 innings. The Busters are 9-4 in games hes appeared. Fort Scott likely will rely on sophomore Matt Hicks in the nightcap. The right-hander is 7-1 with a 5.43 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 61.1 innings.

Finnegan is still undecided on the possible Game 3 starter, if the series were to reach Sundays game. The Busters bullpen is led by closer Ray Monje (six saves, 2.65 ERA) and oft-used right-hander Stephen Pagendarm. The sophomore is 5-1 with a team-leading 1.53 ERA in 17.2 innings, striking out 30.

Sophomore right-hander Nick Banman who also is the starting first baseman leads the Greyhounds bullpen with five saves, but has a sub-par 7.11 ERA in 19 innings. Hes also given up four home runs in limited action. The best pure reliever has been Avery Boehm, who has appeared in 16 games, tossing 26 innings with a 4.85 ERA.

But the pitching does not need to be perfect when the Fort Scott offense is as powerful as the Greyhounds. Led by sophomore second baseman Jacob Billers 15 home runs, the Greyhounds have hit the leagues second most round-trippers (79) this season. Theyre also second in team slugging percentage (.554), well behind offensive juggernaut Neosho County in both categories.

Meanwhile, Garden City is fifth in slugging and has hit just 55 home runs this season. But the Busters are the second-best offensive club in the conference at getting on base, reaching at a .452 clip. And while home runs are down, the Busters are second in the conference in extra-base hits (225).

The Buster lineup, though featuring just one double-digit home run hitter, is extremely deep, with No. 9 hitter Alex Nielsen hitting .364 with seven home runs and 50 RBIs.

Of their nine usual hitters in the starting lineup, no batter has less than a .374 on-base percentage.

It all adds up to a solid match-up between the Busters and Greyhounds, Finnegan said.

I just think if youre an outsider looking in, I think youd think its going to be pretty interesting, he said.

Note: The previous time the Busters and Greyhounds met on the baseball diamond was in 2010, with the Busters winning both games against Fort Scott in the Cowley sub-regional.


First Pitch

Who: Fort Scott at Garden City C.C.

What: Region VI Tournament First Round, Best-of-3

When: Game 1, Saturday 1 p.m.

Lineup Look

Fort Scott (36-19, 18-18)

Coach: John Hill III (8th year)

Lineup

Pos.Name Yr Avg. OBP

CH Whitworth Fr. .270 .384

1BN. Banman So. .343 .465

2BJ Biller So. .297 .428

3BA. Tanous So. .396 .452

SSD Crews Fr. .310 .400

LFG Franklin So. .354 .421

CFM Williams Fr. .319 .426

RFD Hasch Fr. .257 .431

DHJ Andrade So. .437 .569

Pitchers

Pos.Name Yr. Rec./Sv ERA

SPR McCollough So. 7-3 4.43

SPM Hicks So. 7-1 4.99

CLN Banman So. 5 7.11

RPB. Johnson Fr. 1-3 5.34

RPA Boehm 1-3 4.85

Garden City (41-14, 21-11)

Coach: Chris Finnegan (12th year)

Lineup

Pos.Name Yr Avg. OBP

CM Brown So. .408 .506

1BK Lopez So. .429 .576

2BC Krainock So. .289 .374

3BA Nielsen Fr. .364 .468

SSC Reynolds Fr. .309 .385

LFS Kennedy So. .416 .544

CFA Roberson Fr. .316 .472

RFB Benson So. .338 .419

DHJ Gonzales Fr. .295 .384

Pitchers

Pos.Name Yr. Rec./Sv ERA

SPNoah Draper So. 7-1 2.10

SPC Burns Fr. 4-1 3.76

CLR Monje Fr. 6 2.65

RPS. Pagendarm So. 5-1 1.53

RPP. Muldrow So. 1-2 3.86