Busters' season ends with 3-1 loss
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
Despite a rock solid effort from a taxed bullpen, including a spot start from usual reliever Tony Yacovetta, the Garden City Community College baseball season came to an end Monday night.
The Broncbusters fell to Johnson County, 3-1, at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in Wichita during the loser's bracket semifinal of the Central District Championship tournament, ending the Busters' season at 38-23, the fourth-most wins in head coach Chris Finnegan's nine years at the helm of the program.
"Seven, eight weeks ago, we were looking at 7-9 in conference, sitting in 7th place halfway through the season, and we wound up going 14-2 in the second half, just started playing better and we got on a roll," Finnegan reflected about the progress the Busters made. "I thought it was a good (season). Anytime you can win 35-plus games on the year, it's a great season. We ended up 38-23 and I'm not complaining one bit."
Having already played three games over the weekend, and already using usual starter Jake Eikleberry in relief against Kansas City, Kan., Saturday night, Finnegan tapped Yacovetta to make a spot start for the Busters, and then pieced together the nine-inning game from there.
The right-handed Yacovetta kept the Cavaliers off the board in his first three innings of work, allowing three singles and a pair of walks but stranding baserunners to end innings. In the fourth, though, Yacovetta was unable to pitch out of a jam, walking Shae Stine with one out, and then John Fairchild reached base on a bunt. Ben Calvano followed with an RBI single, and after a fly out by Alec Alvarez, LJ Hatch delivered a two-run single to give the Cavs the 3-0 lead.
That was the final inning for Yacovetta, finishing with three earned runs on five hits and four walks in four innings.
Finnegan went to Tyler Clapper out of the bullpen for innings five and six, followed by Madison Spencer for 1 2/3 and Austin Aspegren for an out, all of who kept the Cavaliers off the board.
"I thought Tony pitched really well," Finnegan said. "He just ran out of gas. He's not built for starting. We knew at some point in time, they were kind of going to get to him."
Finnegan also noted that Clapper, Spencer and Aspegren came in to give the Busters a chance by shutting down Johnson County, but the damage had been done.
Johnson County starter Justin Wyant, despite walking six, kept the Busters off balance just enough to pitch out of jams, allowing just one run in 8 2/3 innings and striking out four.
"You have to give credit to Johnson's pitcher. He had a huge day," Finnegan said. "He was good. He commanded two pitches for a strike."
The Busters got the lone run in the top of the sixth when Tyler Alitz drove in Rocky Desantis from second with a single.
Garden City's other best chance came in the third when Dalton Cook and CJ Krainock reached second and third on Tyler Tucker's sacrifice bunt for the first out of the inning, but Kaleb Zimmer struck out and Desantis grounded out to second to end the threat.
"It was just a tough day with the wind blowing in, and when you get a couple of opportunities with runners in scoring position and you don't take advantage, it's going to be a tough day," Finnegan said.
Desantis had the only multi-hit day for the Busters, going 2 for 3 with a run scored. Alitz and Tucker each had a single.
"Tough ball game," Finnegan said. "It was a well-played ball game. They were just two runs better than us today."
The Cavaliers moved on to beat Cowley, 8-7 in 12 innings, in Monday's elimination bracket finale, and advanced to the championship against the lone undefeated team left in the tournament, Kansas City.
The championship game is set for 5 p.m. today, with the winner of Cowley and Johnson County having to beat Kansas City twice in a row to earn the district title and a berth in the NJCAA World Series.
If a second game is needed, that will begin immediately following the first game's finish.
Note: The Busters were represented on the All-KJCCC West team which was announced at the tournament, with shorstop Alitz, center fielder Tucker and designated hitter Desantis being named to the first team, while catcher Francisco Alvarez was named to the second team and pitcher JJ Benes and second baseman CJ Krainock were honorable mentions.
Garden City 000 001 000 -- 1 4 1
Johnson County 000 300 00x -- 3 6 1
Yacovetta, Clapper(5), Spencer(7), Aspegren(9) and Alvarez. Wyant, Hurt(9) and Fairchild. W--Wyant (8-2). L--Yacovetta (1-1).