Baseball keeps rolling with series win
Lady Busters softball goes 1-2 in Colby; Lebron rounding into form.
Lady Busters softball goes 1-2 in Colby; Lebron rounding into form.
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
On March 24, the Garden City Community College Baseball team were sitting in sixth place in the KJCCC West after losing three of four to Colby at home, dropping the Busters to 7-9 in the Jayhawk (14-16 overall). Since then, the Busters have won 13 of their last 15, including 10-of-12 conference games, culminating in Saturday's doubleheader sweep of Barton County, 14-10 and 16-7, to win the series 3-1, improving the Busters to 27-18 and 17-11, and putting them in third place in the West, just percentage points behind 14-9 Butler.
"It's been one of those years," head coach Chris Finnegan explained in a telephone interview on Sunday. "We came out of the chute very slow offensively this year, but finally we've done a real good job lately, and it's starting to click."
Click is right.
The Busters only lost one game to Butler in a 3-1 series win on April 5-6, and then dropped the series opener to Barton on Friday before winning the last three to steal the series.
"It's nice to walk out of there, especially on the road, winning three of four," Finnegan said of beating Barton in Great Bend.
The Busters were able to sweep Saturday despite their usual strength — pitching — struggling. Starters Chris Bonk and Dalton Shalberg combined to pitch just 9 2/3 innings, giving up 11 earned runs, but were still able to both pick up wins, thanks in large part to a burgeoning offense.
In both games, the Busters had a six-run inning in the early stages of the game to jump out to leads that the taxed bullpen were able to protect.
First baseman Nolan Barrientos led the way with a 4-for-11 weekend with four RBIs on a home run and a double. Tyler Alitz was not far behind with five hits, including a home run and two doubles, and three RBIs combined.
With those two at the helm, the Busters pounded out 31 hits, including 11 extra-base hits (three round-trips, two triples and six two-baggers).
Bonk picked up his seventh win, keeping him perfect on the season despite the 4 2/3, five earned run outing, while Shalberg got to 3-3 with the win.
The Busters travel to Goodwell, Okla., for a 3 p.m. game today against Oklahoma Panhandle State JV. They will continue conference play at 3 p.m. Friday at home against Dodge City, which will be the opener of a four-game set against the fourth-place Conquistadors (27-17, 13-11).
Garden City 461 102 2 -- 16 14 0
Barton 005 002 0 -- 7 11 4
Bonk, Aspegren(5), Cook(6), Clapper(7) and Alvarez. Mercer, Plank(2), Ruiz(2), Adams(4), Turner(5) and Byfield. W--Bonk (7-0). L--Mercer (4-5). 2B--Garden City, Zimmer (6), Desantis (13), Alitz (11); Barton, Tyler 3 (16), Benson (1), Cromwell (7). 3B--Barton, Cromwell (2). HR--Garden City, Tucker (3), Barrientos (3), Alitz (5).
Garden City 126 310 001 -- 14 17 1
Barton 002 107 000 -- 10 12 7
Shalberg, Thomas(6), Yacovetta(6), Clapper(8) and Alvarez. Lovelace, Brummer(4), Shoemaker(5), Evans(6) and Byfield. W--Shalberg (3-3). L--Lovelace (2-5). 2B--Garden City, Barrientos (5), Alitz (12), Alvarez (8); Barton, Byfield (12), Bowman (9), Hughes (3). 3B--Garden City, Zimmer (2), Krainock (1). HR--Barton, Tyler (6), Watkins (3).
No. 2 starter Alex Barleen again took big steps forward in her quest to relieve ace pitcher Rachel Roe in the Lady Broncbusters' three-game schedule at the Colby Invitational Saturday. Barleen completed a two-hit shutout to lead the Busters to a 9-0 run-rule win over Trinidad, Colo., striking out two.
Unfortunately for the Busters, it was the only win they would pick up during the rain-shortened tournament, dropping the opener, 8-7, to Otero, Colo., and the finale, 6-2, to McCook, Neb.
"A bright side from yesterday was Alex Barleen," head coach Becky Gundy said in a telephone interview on Sunday. "Once again, she went out and had another good game for us."
Barleen has only become a pitcher this season, he sophomore year at GCCC, and is filling in for previous No. 2 starter Jessica Soliday, who left the team a couple of weeks ago.
While Roe is the unquestioned workhorse, Barleen has become a solid second option to relieve Roe at times.
"A lot of times, Alex pitched better than Rachel did (Saturday)," Gundy said.
Roe was knocked around for eight runs, four earned, in six innings against Otero for the loss. Barleen picked up the shutout win against Trinidad before Roe was hung with another loss against McCook on Saturday night, a game that was moved up from Sunday due to the forecast of rain for Sunday.
Another scheduled game against Lamar, Colo., on Sunday was cancelled due to the rain.
Roe pitched five innings against McCook, giving up just three runs while striking out three. Barleen came in from the bullpen to toss two innings, also giving up three runs.
Catcher Danielle Aronoff had an outstanding Saturday offensively, combining to go 8 for 11 with four RBIs and a double.
The Busters return to conference play Wednesday when they will take on Seward County in a twin bill that begins at 1 p.m. in Liberal.
Garden City 000 025 0 -- 7 9 2
Otero 000 431 x -- 8 8 2
Roe and Aronoff. Hall, Booth(6) and Souza. W--Hall. L--Roe. 2B--Garden City, Aronoff; Otero, Johnson. HR--Otero, Hall, Souza 2.
Trinidad 000 000 -- 0 2 1
Garden City 000 207 -- 9 10 1
Attencio, Montano(6) and Cornett. Barleen and Aronoff. W--Barleen. L--Attencio. 2B--Garden City, Nelson. HR--Garden City, Shanks.
McCook 211 101 0 -- 6 11 2
Garden City 100 010 0 -- 2 11 3
Buechner and Baertsch. Roe, Barleen(6) and Aronoff. W--Buechner. L--Roe. 2B--McCook, Baertsh; Garden City, Supino. HR--McCook, Buechner.
Track & Field
The best news that could come out of the KT Woodman Classic track and field meet at Wichita State University on Saturday for the Busters was that region-title hopeful Alfredo Lebron was close to 100 percent again.
The Busters got that confirmation, with the sophomore distance runner second place in the 800-meter run with a time of 1 minute, 56.02 seconds in the finals.
"He's a lot closer to where he was during the indoor season," head coach Ryan Turner said of Lebron, who was named the male athlete of the region during the indoor season's Region VI track meet on Feb. 21. "He still doesn't feel up to 100 percent, but this was a good start."
Other good news coming from the meet was that the Busters performed markedly better than they did two weeks ago at the Texas Southern Relats, according to Turner.
"Mentally, our kids were prepared to run," the first-year coach said. "They competed like they wanted to run."
On to of Lebron's second, Qhyle Elijah was third in the 200-meter dash at 21.24. Edward Simmons was 20th in the same event (21.79).
Elijah and Simmons, along with Florisson Dieujuste and Danick Duffus, teamed up to take fourth in the 4X100 relay at 41.76.
Also, Elijah, Simmons and Lebron all came together with Blake McKinzie to place sixth in the 4X400 (3:20.56).
Rounding out the top-six placers for the men was Odion Agbi, who took fifth in the triple jump with a mark of 48 feet, 2.50 inches.
Kadijah Brown was the closest Lady Buster to a top-six finish as she was eighth in the long jump (18-01.50) and ninth in the high jump (5-03.75).
The Busters will send a small group of athletes to the Tabor College Invitational on Wednesday before sending qualified tracksters to the Kansas Relays on Saturday in Lawrence.
Results in Scoreboard, Page B2.