GC Elite crumbles in Clanton finale
By BRETT MARSHALL
By BRETT MARSHALL
It's barely a 10-minute drive from Clint Lightner Stadium on the south side of Garden City to Williams Stadium at the corner of Kansas Avenue and North Campus Drive on the campus of Garden City Community College.
But on Sunday afternoon, on that 10-minute drive from the south side of town to the middle of town something happened to the Garden City Elite American Legion Post No. 9 baseball team.
From a glittering 3-1 semifinal victory in the Jim Clanton Memorial Tournament over the Dodge City Sr. Rangers, the Elite was a shadow of its former self in the championship game at Williams Stadium, getting run-ruled by the Butler County Cubs, 10-0, in five innings.
From playing error-free ball for most of the weekend tournament, the Elite played perhaps its worst game of the season, committing an unsightly seven errors, which contributed to nine unearned runs.
"You don't go through the entire tournament and then do this," a visibly upset Elite coach Lyle Befort said after a lengthy session with his team down the right field line minutes after they had suffered the embarrassing loss. "We weren't ready. The drive from Clint Lightner to Williams, something left. I don't get it. We weren't excited. We weren't pumped up. We weren't jacked up like we were for Dodge City."
Befort said it had the feeling of being satisfied with beating Dodge City, and then not having anything left for Butler County, which had advanced with two earlier Sunday wins — 7-4 over Columbine, Colo., and 5-0 over previously unbeaten Lamar, Colo.
"Butler wanted it more than we did," Befort said matter-of-factly. "This is not acceptable to me. This looked like spring ball. We might as well gone out there, presented them with the trophy ahead of time, and said thank you.
"Seven errors, nine unearned. That's a pretty good 'Thanks for coming.'"
The collapse started early and didn't abate through the five innings.
Two errors led to three unearned Butler runs in the top of the first. Two more miscues in the third allowed two more unearned runs in another three-run Cubs at-bat. One bobble in the fourth allowed two more unearned runs, and then another two in the fifth pushed across the final two runs for Butler. Daven Acker, Mario Montoya and Isaiah Rodriguez pitched, and yielded six singles to the Cubs.
"They didn't hit us hard at all," Befort said. "We didn't put any pressure on their pitcher (Justin Ash — four hits, three strikeouts, no walks). We've got a lot of guys following the curve ball with their hands, and they're not getting any power with their swings."
The loss, which dropped the Elite's record to 17-3, was stunning in the way the team unraveled.
"We've got to play excited and get pumped up for every team," Befort said. "We just can't be satisfied with beating Dodge City. This group is good enough to get it right. We've won 17 games, so we know they're capable. I want my team to come back and play the way they have for most of the summer. We had a bad game in Pueblo (Colo.), and we just can't afford to have these kinds of games. We need two, three, four people to step up and make others accountable."
The Elite will travel to Ulysses for a 6 p.m. doubleheader on Wednesday, before hitting the road on Friday to the Salina tournament over the weekend.
"If we play like this at Salina, we'll get our butts beat," Befort said.
In the Dodge City victory, Edgar Montoya picked up the win by limiting the Rangers to just three hits, giving up the one run in the first inning. Acker and Thomas Solorio had two hits apiece to pace a nine-hit attack. Mario Montoya drove in a pair of runs, while Logan Dechant added an RBI double. Dechant scored two of the three Elite runs. Montoya wasn't at his best, striking out three while walking six. But the defense sparkled behind him, playing error-free ball in the field.
"That's the team that I've seen for most of the summer, and that's the team that needs to show up all the time," Befort said. "That kind of effort will get you a lot of wins."
Of the four hits against Butler, two came from Acker, while Thomas Solorio and Addison DeHerrera had one each.
In the 16-and-under division, the Butler County Yankees run-ruled the Liberal Rattlers, 19-1, to capture the championship of that group. In the 14-and-under division, the Southwest Hitters rolled past the Liberal Rattlers, 15-5, in the championship game at Clint Lightner on Sunday afternoon.
Full results in Scoreboard, Page B2.
Jim Clanton Memorial Baseball Tournament
at Williams Stadium
19 & Under
Butler Co. Cubs 303 22 -- 10 6 0
Garden City Elite 000 00 -- 0 4 7
Ash and Bloyer; Acker, M. Montoya (4), Rodriguez (5) and DeHerrera. WP--Ash; LP--Acker. LOB--Butler Co. 5, Garden City 4.
at Clint Lightner Stadium
Dodge City Rangers 100 000 0 -- 1 3 0
Garden City Elite 010 200 x -- 3 9 0
Weiser and Wells; E. Montoya and DeHerrera. WP--E. Montoya; LP--Weiser. LOB--Dodge City 6, Garden City 6. 2B--Dodge City (Weiser), Garden City (Acker, Dechant). 3B--Garden City (Zapata).
Butler County Cubs 10, Garden City Elite 0 (5 inn.)
Garden City Elite 3, Dodge City Sr. Rangers 1
Butler County Cubs 5, Lamar, Colo. Warriors 0
Butler County Cubs 7, Columbine, Colo. Elite 4
Dodge City Sr. Rangers 10, Goodland Outlaws 2
Pool Play Seedings
Hooker, Okla. Horny Toads 6, Hugoton 5
Cimarron 8, Ellis Legion 5
SW Kansas River Rats 7, Colby Sluggers 1
16 & Under Division
Butler County Yankees 19, Liberal Rattlers 1
Ulysses 4, Garden City Bombers 0
Butler County Cubs 7, Widefield, Colo. Gladiators 3
Dodge City Jr. Rangers 15, Minneola 5
14 & Under Division
SW Hitters 15, Liberal Rattlers 5
19 & Under
Garden City Elite 16, Hooker, Okla. 2
Butler Co. Cubs 14, SW Kansas River Rats 2
Ellis Legion 11, Colby Sluggers 3
Goodland Outlaws 11, Cimarron 7
Lamar, Colo. 6, Hugoton 2
16 & Under
Ulysses 4, Butler Co. Cubs 3
Butler Co. Yankees 14, Minneola 2
Butler Co. Yankees 3, Garden City Bombers 0
Ulysses 7, Dodge City Jr. Rangers 3
Liberal Rattlers 7, Dodge City Jr. Rangers 6
Garden City Bombers 4, Widefield Gladiators 0
Widefield Gladiators 10, Minneola 6
Liberal Rattlers 9, Butler Co. Cubs 6
14 & Under
SW Hitters 17, Hugoton Jokers 5