Elite win Harbour Tourney
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
For the second year in a row, baseball coach Lyle Befort celebrated Father's Day just hours after a Ulysses Tournament championship.
Last year, it was as the coach of Babe Ruth Finney County Blues. This year, he helmed the Garden City American Legion Post No. 9 baseball team to a 5-0 record and the Gene Harbour American Legion Tournament title.
The Garden City Elite finished off the championship with a pair of wins on Saturday, first beating Goodland 11-1 in a run-rule shortened game in the early afternoon, then beat Liberal, 9-2, in the weather-shortened title game later Saturday night, giving the Elite a 7-0 record.
"I got to celebrate Father's Day with back-to-back championships," an elated Befort said in a telephone interview on Sunday.
His Blues team won the inaugural tournament in 2013, before repeating the feat with the Elite on Saturday behind a complete game effort from Daniel Flores, who picked up his first win of the season despite walking two and giving up five hits in four innings.
"He was a little off," Befort said of Flores, the right-handed 18-year-old. "He just needs to understand that he has a really good defense behind him.
"He was a little wild at times, but he came through when we needed him to get the outs."
The Garden City High School graduate struck out two in his four innings of work, and induced six ground outs, while allowing just two unearned runs.
Meanwhile, the Elite's offense did the rest of the work, scoring five runs in the first two innings, and pulling away with four in the fourth en route to the blowout win.
Marcus Zapata did most of the damage with three RBIs and two runs on 2 for 4 at the plate, including a two-run double. Jacob Rivas had a pair of RBIs and three runs, going 2 for 3, also with a double.
"They're getting hits when they have to," Befort said. "That's the biggest thing."
Against Goodland, the Elite did not just score when they had to, but seemingly at will.
After a scoreless first, the Elite batted around in the second, clubbing a pair of home runs. The first came off the bat Isaiah Rodriguez with the bases loaded, giving the Elite a 4-0 lead.
"I put him down in the eight hole in the lineup because he can really hit the fastball," Befort said of Rodriguez. "I told him to look for his pitch and drive it."
On the first pitch of the at bat, he did just that.
Five batters later, Zapata sent an 0-1 pitch to left center for the opposite field two-run home run, capping a seven-run inning.
Zapata has really been working hard at hitting to the opposite field, and the home run was a good sign that the hard work is paying off.
"You can tell they're learning something," Befort said.
Thomas Solorio held Goodland at bay for most of the game, giving up just a solo home run to right center in the fourth, finishing with four strikeouts one walk, and just the one hit and one run over four innings, picking up his first win of the season.
In the third-place game, Hugoton defeated Goodland, 6-4, in a weather-shortened affair.
The Elite return to the diamond with a road doubleheader at Holcomb Tuesday, followed by a home twin bill against Hugoton Wednesday.
Goodland 000 1 -- 1 1 2
Garden City 070 4 -- 11 8 1
Helton and Smith. Solorio and DeHerrerra. W--Solorio (1-0). L--DeHerrerra. HR--Goodland, Smith. Garden City, Rodriguez (1), Zapata (1).
Garden City 320 4 -- 9 12 1
Liberal 020 0 -- 2 5 0
Flores and Solorio. Fitzgerald. W--Flores (1-0). L--Fitgerald. 2B--Garden City, Zapata (2), Solorio (2), Rivas (1).