Getting offensive: Busters' bats explode in 4-game sweep of Pratt
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
The Garden City Community College Broncbusters' bats exploded in a four-game sweep of Pratt on Sunday and Monday, with the Busters completing the clean demolition of the Beavers in a Jayhawk Conference doubleheader on Monday at Williams Stadium.
The Busters scored 27 runs in two wins on Sunday, and followed that with 14 runs on Monday, with a 2-1 win in the opener and a 12-4 victory in the nightcap, improving the Busters' overall record to 12-7, and their conference record to 5-3.
The offensive explosion comes after the Busters scored just 24 runs during a 1-5 stretch dating back to Feb. 26, including three losses in four games to conference opponent Hutchinson.
Head coach Chris Finnegan attributed the outburst to a change in mindset.
"Maturity level," the eighth-year coach said after Monday's doubleheader. "Our maturity level at the plate early, the first 15 games (of the season) was very immature, very selfish. We just had to change some things around."
Finnegan noted that the hitters had to "buy in" to the approach that he wanted them to take at the plate.
"We really got away from some things that one, we were doing well in the fall, and two, about the first week and a half we were doing really well," Finnegan said. "We got away from it. We were taking very selfish approaches at the plate and we've got to overcome that."
Most of that change in approach had to do with situational awareness, knowing when to bunt and when to take the extra bag on a misplayed ball.
But most of all, it was about hitting with runners in scoring position.
"A lot of people stress, 'Hey, we want to hit over .300 as a club, have more walks than strikeouts offensively.' Here's my thing, I want to hit over .400 with runners in scoring position."
In the four-game sweep of the Beavers, Finnegan got exactly what he wanted. The Busters hit .407, with 24 hits in 59 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
No at bat was bigger than Rocky Desantis' in the fifth inning of Monday's nightcap after the Beavers took a 3-1 lead in the top of the inning on back-to-back home runs.
The three-hole hitter, Desantis had Tyler Tucker at third base with two outs. Facing a 1-2 count, the left-handed hitter turned on an inside fastball and roped it to right field, scoring Tucker.
The Busters exploded from there, turning the lineup over, as they scored six runs in the inning to take a commanding 7-3 lead en route to the blowout.
Starter Brooks Trujillo (1-0) was credited with the win for the Busters, giving him his first win in four appearances. He gave up three earned in five innings, but struck out 11.
Tyler Clapper, Austin Aspegren, Braden Sager and Tony Yacovetta came in for an inning each in relief. Aspegren gave up the only earned run for the Busters' bullpen.
Kaleb Zimmer had three RBIs, while Desantis and Cale Dineen each had a pair.
In the first game on Monday, Chris Bonk earned the win, his fourth in as many outings, pitching five innings of one-run ball, striking out eight.
Josh Thomas cam in to pitch one and two-thirds innings for the save, his first of the season, after getting the Busters out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the sixth.
Desantis and Francisco Alvarez had the only RBIs for the Busters in the 2-1 win as Pratt starter Evan Payne pitched a complete game, striking out five.
"Any time you can sweep a good club, it's always good," Finnegan said. "We did a lot of things in the four games that we hadn't been able to do in the first 15 games. We found a way to get a comeback in games 1 and 2 (on Sunday). We found a way to win a one-run game in game three. We did what we were supposed to do."
The Busters have a non-conference doubleheader with Otero, Colo., Community College at 3 and 5 p.m. Wednesday at home, before returning to conference play in Liberal on Saturday and Sunday, when they will take on Seward County in a four-game set. Games are set for 1 and 3 p.m. each day.
Pratt 000 100 0 -- 1 6 1
Garden City 001 100 x -- 2 3 2
Payne and Booth. Bonk, McKinney(6), Thomas(6) and Alvarez. W - Bonk (4-0). L - Payne. Sv - Thomas (1). 2Bs - Pratt, Hamerle.
Pratt 000 030 100 -- 4 10 2
Garden City 000 162 30x -- 12 10 1
Mondello, Blanks(5), Clements(5), Glober(6), Engelland(7), Lorenz(8) and Graf, LaPlant(8). Trujillo, Clapper(6), Aspegren(7), Sager(8), Yacovette(9) and Mohr. W - Trujillo (1-0. L - Mondello. 2Bs - Pratt, Resser; Garden City, Zimmer (2). HRs - Pratt, Crouch, Alverez. Garden City, Alitz (2).
Sunday's Late Games
The Broncbusters and Beavers began the four-game set late Sunday, when the Busters swept the series opening doubleheader with a 14-7 win in the first game, and a 13-8 victory in the nightcap.
Catcher Jaxon Mohr led the Busters at the plate, driving in four on a pair of doubles, including a bases clearing two-bagger in the bottom of the eighth to break the nine-inning game open en route to a 13-8 win.
Kaleb Zimmer also had a big day hitting, going 2 for 4 with three RBIs. Zach Barton drove in two on a single and a double in four at bats.
The teams combined to send nine pitchers to the hill in the high-scoring affair, with starter Jake Eikleberry picking up the win for the Busters, tossing six innings, giving up seven earned runs, while striking out three and walking three. Tyler Clapper, Marcus McKinney and Josh Thomas combined to pitch three scoreless innings for the Busters out of the bullpen.
Clayton Banks picked up the loss for the Beavers, giving up three earned in an inning and two-thirds of relief. Starter Brandon Horne lasted just four innings, giving up five earned runs. Bennie Dean's power show for the Beavers, smacking a pair of home runs to drive in four, was wasted in the losing effort.
Pratt 101 141 000 — 8 10 2
Garden City 500 040 04x — 13 13 2
Horne, Blanks(5), Hoover (6), Spruill(6), Clements(8) and Graf. Eikleberry, Clapper(7), McKinney(8), Thomas(9) and Mohr. W - Eikleberry (?-?). L - Blanks. 2Bs - Pratt, S Dean; Garden City, Dineen, Barton, Mohr 2. 3Bs - Pratt, Horn. HRs - Pratt, B Dean 2; Garden City, Alitz.
It was first baseman Rocky Desantis' four RBIs in the nightcap on Sunday that led the way for the Busters in a 14-7 rout. Desantis racked up five hits — four singles and a double — in five at bats, including a two-run double in the fifth.
Kadin Hydrick chipped in three RBIs on 3 for 4 at the plate.
JJ Benes picked up the win for the Busters despite lasting only five and two-thirds innings and giving up seven runs, five earned, in the seven-inning contest. However, he did strike out eight. Madison Spencer and Austin Aspegren finished off the win with one and two-thirds scoreless innings.
Starter Tyler Huffstickler was saddled with the loss, giving up eight runs, four earned, in three and two-thirds innings of work. Three pitchers — Creighton Hoover, Logan Berthoff and Jacob Spruill — came in out of the pen for the Beavers to combine for two and one-third innings, giving up five earned. Scotty Alvarez went 3-for-4 hitting and drove in three for the Beavers.
Pratt 204 001 0 -- 7 10 3
Garden City 014 333 x -- 14 14 2
Huffstickler, Hoover(4), Berthoff(6), Spruill(6) and Booth. Benes, Spencer(6), Aspegren(7) and Alvarez. W - Benes (?-?). L - Huffstickler. 2Bs - Garden City, Desantis, Hydrick. 3Bs - Pratt, Alverez.