Big bats: Busters' offense lights up Clarendon
By BRETT MARSHALL
By BRETT MARSHALL
The big thing for the Garden City Community College baseball team in its midweek non-conference home game with Clarendon, Texas, was to build on the momentum of a four-game weekend sweep at Cloud County in advance of another big four-game Jayhawk Conference home series against Butler, which begins on Saturday.
Count this one as a big boost in both confidence and morale for the Broncbusters as they used a seven-run uprising in the second inning to power their way to an 11-3 shellacking of the visiting Bulldogs on Wednesday at Williams Stadium.
“I thought we played pretty well, and it’s always good to keep the momentum going,” said Busters’ head coach Chris Finnegan. “We swung the bats well, the bullpen did a good job. Defensively, we weren’t great (3 errors), but we were good enough.”
The victory improves the Busters’ season record to 19-16, and they will take an 11-9 conference mark into their weekend home matchup with Butler, which is at 11-5.
Wednesday’s victory was propelled by an 11-hit attack that saw Cale Dineen lead the way with three singles, while leadoff hitter Tyler Tucker was perhaps the biggest producer, getting two hits and driving in four runs from his leadoff position.
“I’m just trying to be aggressive and waiting on good pitches, especially looking for the fastball,” a smiling Tucker said afterward. “It’s definitely one of the better days. I just try to tell myself to stick with it. Being a little warmer also helped, and the sky was clear and it makes it easier to pick up the pitches.”
The Busters’ leaky defense aided in Clarendon’s three runs in the top of the second, but the Busters’ had an answer in their half of the inning.
Kadin Hydrick drove in a run on a fielding error by Clarendon shortstop Pablo Puerta. Another run came home on a second Bulldog miscue before Dineen added an RBI single. That set the table for Tucker, who ripped a two-run double to left center, putting the Busters up 5-3. Kaleb Zimmer then unloaded a two-run triple to right center, making it 7-3.
The early fielding woes by the Busters’ defense may have caused starting pitcher Dalton Shalberg to leave after three innings.
The freshman right-hander from Lakin had a 1-2-3 first inning, but then was tagged with three runs on four hits, including a pair of hot-shots that just eluded or were too hot to handle by the Busters’ infield.
“Dalton had a good first and then a little bit of a rocky second,” Finnegan said. “He was able to work out of it in the third, and it just seemed like a good time to get him out with some momentum and confidence.”
Then came the Busters’ bullpen, which has struggled at times this season. Brad Spires pitched two-thirds of an inning before yielding to Dalton Cook, and it was Cook who locked down on the Clarendon hitters, going 2 1/3 innings, giving up just one hit while retiring seven of the eight hitters he faced in picking up the win.
The Busters distanced themselves further from the Bulldogs with single runs in the fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth innings, getting RBIs from Zach Barton and two from Tucker (fifth and eighth innings). Two Clarendon errors provided a run for the Busters in the sixth, along with a walk and a Dineen single.
“This just builds confidence for us,” Tucker said of the win against a team that had rallied two weeks earlier for an 11-10 win at Clarendon over the Busters. “That was like the elephant in the room.”
Finnegan was pleased with the way his team approached the single mid-week contest.
“Just our mentality has been better,” the Busters’ coach said. “We’re learning to control what we can control and not worry about the rest. This team cares a lot for the school, for the community and sometimes takes things too hard. We’re getting better dealing with that.”
In addition to Dineen’s three hits, Tucker, Zimmer and Rocky Desantis each had two. And despite scoring 11 runs, the Busters still left 12 runners stranded. Clarendon starter Brandon Turner was tagged with the loss as the Bulldogs went through five pitchers of their own. Finnegan used five relievers as Marcus McKinney, Braden Sager and TJ Clapper pitched one inning each in the seventh, eighth and ninth.
Clarendon, Texas 030 000 000 — 3 8 5
Garden City 070 111 01x — 11 11 3
Pitching—Clarendon: Turner, Hillier (4), Hall 5), Arrieta (7), Bach (8) and Cruz; GCCC—Shalberg, Spires (4), Cook (4), McKinney (7), Sager (8), Clapper (9) and Alvarez, Mohr (8). WP—Cook; LP—Turner.
2B—Clarendon (Cruz, Ramirez, Puerta); GCCC (Tucker). 3B—GCCC (Zimmer). RBI—Clarendon (Wearden, Puerta 2); GCCC (Tucker 4, Zimmer 2, Barton 2, Hydrick 1, Alvarez 1, Dineen 1). LOB—Clarendon 7, Garden City 12.