By KEVIN THOMPSON
It was a Dickensian best of times, worst of times afternoons for the Garden City High School baseball team.
The Buffaloes split a home doubleheader at Clint Lightner Stadium against the Ulysses Tigers, winning the first game in convincing style 11-1 in five innings behind junior Jake Curran's masterful pitching performance and the team's first error-free game of the season.
Then, they fell in the second 4-2, with all four runs unearned and with the team committing four errors.
The tale of two Garden City's got off to an auspicious start. Curran gave up only two hits, walked just one and struck out five Tigers to get the five-inning win. In the second, third and fifth innings, he faced the minimum three batters, highlighted by a four-pitch third inning to pick up his first win of the season against four losses.
"My curve ball was working the best for me today," Curran said. "They struggled to hit it so coach (Bill Wilson) kept calling for it and I kept throwing it."
Curran said he slowed down his fastball, too, which gained him more control than when he was throwing harder earlier in the season, and that, too, worked.
"He was around the strike zone all day. His breaking ball was really good. He didn't put anybody on base," Wilson said. "It was a pretty simple game after that."
Garden City struck early and often in the win.
Levi Richardson opened with a bunt single and scored two outs later on an error. Then Keith Curran blasted a triple to deep centerfield to drive in Austin Maier. He then scored on an errant throw to first on a strikeout.
In the third, with two outs, the Buffaloes came up with three consecutive doubles to score twice more.
One inning later, Maier drove in two more runs with a double down the third base line.
Garden City scored three more times in the fifth to get the run-rule win.
"It was an overall better effort by the whole team," Curran acknowledged in getting the win.
"We swung the bats pretty well. They helped us out (with some errors) that got us some pretty good momentum," he said.
Game 2 was the antithesis of the first as the Buffaloes gave up four unearned runs, committed four miscues and only managed three hits.
The Tigers used a throwing error from shortstop Jake Curran to score their first run, then Kiano Sosa drove in another with a double to take a 2-0 lead.
But the Buffaloes came back in their half of the first. After a double play, pinch runner Todd Savolt scored on Maier's steal of second, then Keith Curran drove in Maier with his second triple of the day, a 1-2 pitch to centerfield.
Ulysses scored again in the fourth on a bizarre play.
With two outs, Felipe Lopez hit a ground ball to short but Jake Curran's throw to first went wide. Lopez took second on Keith Curran's throw past second. As Lopez headed to third, the throw from the outfield went awry and he scored on the rare three-error debacle.
The Buffaloes wasted a golden opportunity in the sixth inning. With the right-handed Edgar Montoya at the plate running a squeeze play, Jake Curran stole home and probably would have made it on his own. But Montoya caught a piece of the ball and hit it foul to negate the effort.
Chase Newell put down the Buffaloes in order in the final inning to seal the win.
"We weren't really that upset in the first game," said Ulysses coach Mike Ybarra.
"But you're always worried in the second game after you get beat like that and these kids today reacted like we've been wanting them to."
Taking advantage of the Garden City errors, regaining the lead, then holding it were all indicative of what he expects of his Tigers, Ybarra said.
Chavez gave Ulysses five solid innings and Newell pitched two solid relief innings, as well, he said.
"The kids seem to be having more fun and playing a lot better baseball. Hopefully we can close out in a positive way," Ybarra said.
Wilson hopes his team can look more like the Game 1 version than the Game 2.
"We just didn't compete in that second game," Wilson said. "We had people up to bat we expect to produce in those situations and we didn't do it."
Garden City 11, Ulysses 1
Ulysses 000 10 -- 1 2 3
Garden City 302 33 -- 11 9 0
Ulysses--Watie and Higgs. Garden City--J. Curran and Phipps. WP--Curran. LP - Watie.
2B--J. Curran 2, Tomlin, Maier. 3B--K. Curran.
Ulysses 4, Garden City 2
Ulysses 200 110 0 -- 4 4 1
Garden City 200 000 0 -- 2 3 4
Ulysses--Chavez, Newell (6) and Higgs. Garden City--Montoya and Phipps. WP--Chavez. LP Montoya.
2B--Watie, Sosa. 3B--Phelps, K. Curran.