Buffs sweep Wichita North in Friday twin bill.
By BRETT MARSHALL
By BRETT MARSHALL
Whether it's the newfound hitting exploits or the defensive prowess, the change in this year's Garden City Buffaloes' baseball team is apparent to many in the early going of the 2014 season.
That was never more clearly visible than Friday at Clint Lightner Stadium, where the Buffs made a clean doubleheader sweep of Wichita North, rolling to a pair of wins, 8-1, and then 12-2 in a run-rule game in the bottom of the sixth.
Not even veteran head coach Bill Wilson could remember the last time the Buffs had a doubleheader sweep. That one will be for the researchers.
"It just feels great to come down here, get a couple of big wins for the home crowd," senior Ivan Gutierrez said. "I think we've all just dedicated ourselves, everybody's working hard and everybody's giving in to do what we need."
Gutierrez, one of 10 seniors on this year's squad, said the leadership had made a difference in the team's approach this season.
"It's our last season and we want to go out on a good season," said Gutierrez, who pitched 5 1/3 innings in the opener to garner the victory. "I was just placing the ball where it needed to be placed and then they were beating it (ball) into the ground and our defense made plays."
In the twin bill brooming, the Buffs cracked out 21 hits while the ever-improving defense committed just one error in each game.
"I mainly stuck with fastballs and worked the change-up in and then the curve every once in a while," said Gutierrez, who had four strikeouts and walked three.
The combination of solid hitting and defense was not lost on Wilson, who was smiling broadly when the second game ended in the bottom of the sixth on a 10-run mercy rule wild pitch.
"It's been a while since we've won a doubleheader and we got a big pick-me-up from our outfield," Wilson said. "Having Mitch (Hernandez) back in the lineup (center field) helps, and Jacob (Rivas) is getting more comfortable out there (left field)."
In the opener, the Buffs scored twice in the third, a single run in the fourth, two more in the fifth and three times in the sixth to put the game out of reach. Emilio Parr had a pair of triples, drove in two runs and scored once, while Daven Acker and Thomas Solorio each picked up two hits, with Acker getting two RBIs and Solorio one. Gutierrez also had an RBI single in the third.
The Buffs got on the board early in the nightcap, scoring once in each of the first two innings before North knotted the game with two runs in the top of the fourth.
That tie didn't last long, though, as the Buffs exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the frame, getting five hits and were aided by two North fielding miscues. Parr had a two-run single that capped off the uprising for the Buffs.
The middle infield for the Buffs also registered two double plays in the opener as shortstop Acker and second baseman Eden Arreola made two nifty combinations to get the Buffs out of trouble. The last one came with the Buffs up 5-1 in the sixth, and Daniel Flores came in to relieve Gutierrez and induced Jordan Doss into a bases-loaded double play that did score a run, and then Flores struck out Caleb Burnett to end the threat.
"We're getting better, doing more good things," Wilson said. "North's been a quality program, so I feel like we've beaten a good team today."
The Buffs are now 4-4 overall and travel to Dodge City for a 6:30 p.m. single game against the Red Demons in what will be a non-Western Athletic Conference contest.
Garden City 8, Wichita North 1
Wichita North 000 001 0 -- 1 5 3
Garden City 002 123 x -- 8 10 1
Eric Escamilla, Everardo Escamilla (6) and Emilio Escamilla; Gutierrez, Flores (6) and Solorio. WP--Gutierrez; LP--Eric Escamilla. 2B--Garden City (Solorio). 3B--Garden City (Zapata, Parr 2). LOB--Wichita North 6, Garden City 7. DP--Garden City 2.
Garden City 12, Wichita North 2 (6 inn.)
Wichita North 000 200 -- 2 5 5
Garden City 110 721 -- 12 11 1
2 outs when winning run scored in sixth.
Doss, Elman (4) and Emilio Escamilla; Montoya, Solorio (6) and Acker. WP--Montoya; LP--Doss. 2B--Wichita North (Barnett). LOB--Wichita North 6, Garden City 7.