Weather may have led to several area high school sporting events being cancelled Tuesday, but the Garden City Wind planned on opening their inaugural season no matter what Mother Nature had to say about it.
While the 6-5 loss to the Trinidad, Colo., Triggers in the inaugural game for the Pecos League franchise may not have been an ideal start for the Wind, Pecos League Commissioner Andrew Dunn had a positive outlook on the day and community.
“I think it was great,” Dunn said. “Considering the two feet of rain we had, the amount of people that came out in these conditions was phenomenal. It was a great night for an introduction of something different.”
Plenty of fans showed up to watch the first professional baseball game in Garden City’s history, but a rain delay pushed back the start to 7 p.m., which did not seem to bother the already loyal fans.
They would be treated early in the game when the Wind opened scoring in the second inning on an error by the Triggers that brought home second baseman Cody Ellis. The Triggers would find their response in the fourth inning, though, when Eric Williams smacked a fastball down right field for the first Pecos league home run at Clint Lightner Stadium to tie the game off of pitcher Craig Jaquez, who had an otherwise great start, pitching 7 1/3 innings, allowing three runs.
“(Jaquez) was outstanding tonight”, Wind head coach Mike Reeves said. “I wanted him to finish the eighth, but it’s early in the season and he kinda ran out of gas — but hands down, he got it done.”
Garden City would take the lead back in the sixth inning, when third baseman Larry Rodriguez made history as the first player to hit a homerun for the Garden City Wind. Rodriguez remained focused on the entire season when discussing the hit, though.
“It feels great,” Rodriguez said. “Any time you get a home run in the first game of the season, it’s obviously a good start. It’s only one home run, though, and you can’t be too happy on it. I’ve got a lot more to go in this long season, so I’ve just got to keep hitting the ball and more will come.”
The game would be far from all offense, as outstanding defense from both teams would be common all throughout the night. Former GCCC Broncbuster standout and now Wind short stop, Shea Bell was a leader on the team defensively.
“Thanks to the pitchers, I got a lot of easy ground balls out there,” Bell said. “It was just fundamentals.”
Heading into the eighth inning, the defensive battle led to a score of 2-1, but a seemingly exhausted Jaquez quickly allowed two base hits, with a wild pitch sending a runner to second before being replaced by submarine pitcher Jacob Terry. The reliever picked up the poor performance in the eighth from Jaquez and kept running with it, hitting one player, walking another, and allowing two runs, before being replaced by another submarine pitcher, Ryan Blenderman. Blenderman was capable of getting the out required to head to the bottom of the eighth after the Wind allowed three runs to give the Triggers a 4-2 lead.
The Wind answered immediately, with Rodriguez, who previously had hit the lone Wind home run, was intentionally walked, allowing Benly Ramos, brother of Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos, to single to center field, bringing in a run.
Cody Ellis then singled to left field, bringing home both baserunners to retake a 5-4 lead.
With only three outs separating the Wind from their first win in franchise history, one swing of the bat from Trevor Sealy, a two-run home run off closer Brandon Hudson, stole the celebratory night from the Wind.
The Wind loaded the bases in the bottom half of the ninth, but were unable to scratch across the tying run, leaving the Wind 0-1 to begin the season. The Triggers are 1-0.
Head Coach Mike Reeves remained positive in the loss, noting that it is a marathon, not a sprint.
“We don’t need to press,” Reeves said. “It’s a long season. This game won’t make or break our season. We just have to keep to the grind, hit balls and throw outs.”
The Wind and Triggers continue a three-game homestand Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Clint Lightner Stadium.
Trigger 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 3 2 --- 6 8 3
Wind 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 3 0 --- 5 8 1
Horan, Mauldin(7), Neptune(7), Swartout(9) and Rich. Jaquez, Terry(8), Blinderman(8), Hudson(9). W—Neptune. L—Hudson. Sv—Swartout. 2B—Wind 1 (Bell). HR—Triggers 2 (Williams, Sealy); Wind 1 (Rodriguez)