Re-focused Busters blow out Longview
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
As the only KJCCC baseball team finished with conference play, Broncbusters head coach Chris Finnegan told his squad to use this weekend's non-conference four-game set with Longview, Mo., as a de facto weekend conference series.
Starting pitcher JJ Benes took that to heart in the series opener on Friday night at Williams Stadium.
"That's exactly what I did," the red-shirt freshman right-hander said. "I went through the whole week preparing like I normally do, went out with the same game plan and it was just really well executed by everyone."
That it was. The Busters run-ruled the visiting Lakers 10-0 in seven innings behind Benes' complete-game shutout, allowing just three hits, three walks and striking out four.
"Slider and fastball," Benes said about which pitches he relied on. "I established my fastball early in counts, and then, like I have all year, I went to my slider to put them away."
Benes, who improved his record to 7-3 with a 2.65 ERA, induced nine groundball outs, allowing a Longview runner to reach third just once.
"I think he located well," Finnegan said about his No. 1 starter. "He didn't really work ahead very well, but he was actually better the longer the game went, the better he got.
"He finally settled in and got his breaking ball over for a strike, and he did what JJ does — he competes."
The Busters' offense gave Benes support quickly, when Desantis doubled with two outs in the first and scored on Nolan Barrientos' following single.
In the third, Tyler Alitz put the Busters in front 4-0 with a two-run blast to left field, scoring Desantis, who had an RBI single two batters earlier.
As Benes cruised, allowing just five baserunners through six innings, the Busters took a commanding 9-0 lead with five runs in the sixth, batting around on five hits and a pair of walks.
After getting out of a two-on, no-out jam in the top of seventh, the Busters got the walk-off run-rule win in the bottom of the seventh as Tyler Tucker singled, stole second and third and scored on Barrientos' single three batters later.
"We got on them right away," Finnegan said. "We got a really good outing out of Benes. I thought our hitters were locked in right away. We made some good defensive plays right away."
The Busters knocked around Longview starter JW McGraw for six earned in five innings, and clobbered 16 hits overall. Barrientos and Alitz had three each, with four RBIs for Barrientos and two for Alitz.
Desantis was 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI, and Zimmer was 2 for 4 with an RBI.
It was a completely different team than the one that was nearly run-ruled by McCook, Neb., on Wednesday, but Finnegan still wants his team to stay focused for the final three games — two today beginning at 2 p.m., and the finale on Sunday at noon.
"It's day one. I mean, yeah, I think our attitude was right, I thought our effort was good," he said, cautioning against taking Longview lightly. "They're a good team. They can come back and win three in a row from us. They have the arms to do it, the offense to do it.
"We have to stay settled in, and we have to play our game."
Benes believes his team will stay on task.
"We want to get a sweep here," he said. "I think that will build momentum for the playoffs next week."
After the Busters complete the series against Longview, they have a single game against Lamar, Colo., at 3 p.m. Tuesday to complete the regular season.
The Busters will then host a Region VI Tournament game on May 3, time and opponent to be determined.
Longview 000 000 0 -- 0 3 3
Garden City 103 005 1 -- 10 16 1
There was one out when the mercy-rule run scored in the seventh inning.
McGraw, Swisher(6), Boucher(7) and Hilbrenner. Benes and Alvarez. W--Benes (7-3). L--McGraw. 2B--Garden City, Desantis (18), Hydrick (2). HR--Garden City, Alitz (7).