Busters split Tuesday with Seward County, drop series 3-1
By ADAM HOLT
Rocky Desantis and his teammates watched as the fly ball he hit sailed toward the left field wall, carried by a strong wind. Seward County left fielder Reed Thompson kept retreating until his back was almost at the wall, and looked up to watch the ball.
The ball landed in his glove for the final out of the seventh inning.
A difference of about 6 feet was all that came between Desantis tying the game with a grand slam, and what ended up being a 5-1 loss for the Garden City Community College baseball team against Seward County on Tuesday at Williams Stadium.
"I got a little under it," Desantis said. "Put my head down and started running, looked back up and I'm like, 'Oh, that's got a chance.' Unfortunately, it came up a little short there."
The Broncbusters and Saints split the final two games of their four-game series, which started Friday and got delayed by wintry weather to Tuesday. GCCC won 7-4 in Game 3, but SCCC claimed the series, 3-1, after sweeping Friday's doubleheader.
The series loss kept Garden City in third in a very tight Jayhawk West, at 7-5 in division play. Seward County improved to 10-6, tied with Dodge City for first place, but eight of the nine teams in the division are within three games of the lead.
"I think the Jayhawk this year, especially on the west side, is very competitive," GCCC head coach Chris Finnegan said. "I think there's gonna be more upsets, I really do. I think there's gonna be more splitting. We can't worry about anybody else. We've just gotta take care of what we've gotta take care of, and go from there."
After winning their first two conference series to start 6-2, Garden City is right back with the rest of the pack in the Jayhawk West, and the tightness of the race doesn't allow a lot of margin for error.
"I'd say a little less leeway," Desantis said. "You've got some teams up at the top that weren't there last year, and now it just shows that everyone's a competitor now. You've just got to really put your nose down and grind it, because every team can give you a little heart."
Desantis was almost a hero with his deep warning track fly. The Busters had just chased Saints starter Hayden Howard from the game, and Friday's Game 1 starter, Tyler Wiedenfeld, came in on relief with two on and two out in the seventh, the Busters down 5-1. Kaleb Zimmmer appeared to pop out on the first pitch, but the catcher's glove touched the ball, and after Finnegan appealed to the umpires, Zimmer was awarded first on catcher's interference.
The left-handed Desantis came up and had the count at 3-0 before taking a called strike and fouling a pitch off. The sixth pitch, he sent to the opposite field for the almost-but-not-quite game-tying shot.
"We had the opportunity," Finnegan said. "I thought Rock put a good swing on the ball; it went in their glove. The ball bounced their way. They got some timely hits and we didn't. They're a good club, and that's what they're gonna do."
The Saints didn't have any big innings, but got a pair in the sixth and another in the seventh to open up a 5-1 lead. The Busters had pulled to within 2-1 in the fourth, getting a triple from Desantis, who scored on Alex Buechler's RBI groundout.
Garden City put at least one man on in the fifth, sixth and seventh, but couldn't drive any home.
"We just didn't get a big hit," Finnegan said. "That was the one thing we were lacking. We had some opportunities. We just didn't take advantage of them. That's what you've got to do."
Howard went 6 2/3 innings, allowing one run on five hits and four walks with five strikeouts. Widenfield and Game 2 starter Austin King finished the game off, as they were already scheduled to throw bullpen sessions Tuesday anyway.
The Busters' game plan was to get work for a number of guys, and six pitchers combined to allow five runs on 10 hits and four walks. Mitch Franek started the game and took the loss.
Garden City was able to open Tuesday's action with a 7-4 win. Seward County cut a 5-2 lead to 5-4 in the sixth, but Mason Fischer hit his first homer of the season, a two-run blast in the bottom of the frame for insurance runs. Colton Kibler picked up his fifth save in relief of TJ Clapper (4-3) who went 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs, both earned on eight hits and two walks, while striking out four.
Seward's Game 3 starter, TJ Looney, lasted one inning before being pulled with elbow soreness. Garden City's Kevin Czarnecki and Trevor Bell had RBI doubles, as the Busters battled back from allowing two first-inning runs to go up 5-2.
Garden City (13-16 overall) next plays today, hosting Clarendon (Texas) at 3 p.m. for one nine-inning game, at Williams Stadium. The Busters then resume conference play with doubleheaders at Colby (18-11, 9-7) starting at 1 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.