Published 3/11/2013 in Sports
By ADAM HOLT
For a young Garden City Community College baseball team, Saturday's split with Hutchinson to ensure a 3-1 series win may have been an important step in the Broncbusters' growth.
Garden City got stomped in Game 3, 16-3, but rebounded and won the finale 8-6 to improve to 7-10 this season and 3-1 in KJCCC play.
After winning the first two games against Longview (Mo.) the previous weekend, Garden City settled for a split, dropping the final two contests. Avoiding that kind of letdown this weekend, especially against a division opponent, would seem to signal that the Busters took a step forward.
"I think we grew up a bit. I think we really did," GCCC head coach Chris Finnegan said. "I think every program has a point in the year where they have to."
There wasn't a lot to like in Saturday's opener, a 16-3 Blue Dragons victory that ended on the run rule after five innings. After showing toughness in taking the first two games on Friday, the Busters were blitzed in Game 3, allowing a pair of five-run innings and 18 hits.
Whatever failings contributed to that spanking didn't carry over into the finale, though. Garden City produced a six-run third inning and held on in an 8-6 win.
"We flushed it, and it's in the past, and move on," said first baseman Nolan Barrientos.
Up 2-1 entering the bottom of the third, the Busters quickly hit into a pair of groundouts to start the inning. But Garden City ended up batting around, notching six hits and taking advantage of a couple missed plays by Hutchinson in chasing starter Cameron Solko from the game.
Rocky Desantis hit a double to left-center to start the rally, and scored when Barrientos' soft liner to center dropped in front of a diving Josh Kunzman for a double. Kevin Czarnecki lined a hit to right center for a third straight double, scoring Barrientos to make it 4-1. Jaxon Mohr kept the inning alive, reaching on an error, and Tyler Nesby followed with an RBI single. Nick Ragias hit a pop foul that a sliding Jordan Schroer just missed catching, then added an RBI single of his own. Mason Fischer finished the scoring with a two-run single through the hole at short to make it 8-1.
"They had one error, and we just took advantage of all the momentum shift and just rolled with it," Barrientos said.
GCCC starter Jake Eikleberry cruised over the next two innings, before running into trouble in the sixth and seventh, allowing a pair of runs in each frame before being pulled in the seventh. He went 6 2/3 innings, giving up five runs, four earned on six hits and a walk, with four strikeouts, and got the win to move to 3-1.
Colton Kibler came on for the ninth with an 8-5 lead, giving up a run to make it 8-6, with two on and one out before getting a popout and strikeout for the save, his second of the season.
"I thought they did a wonderful job," Finnegan said of the Busters in response to Game 4. "Their attitude was great. They pretty much said, 'Hey, we got kicked in right there.' They moved on."
Solko took the loss for Hutchinson, allowing eight runs, four earned, on seven hits and a walk in 2 2/3 innings.
Hutchinson dropped to 6-6 and 3-5 in the Jayhawk West.
Garden CIty is next scheduled to play at Otero Junior College (Colo.) at 2 p.m. Tuesday, a game originally scheduled for Feb. 21. The Busters follow up by hosting Lamar (Colo.) at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Williams Stadium.
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