Roughed up: Buffs falter in DH loss to Heights
By BRETT MARSHALL
The last time the Garden City Buffaloes baseball team was on the diamond with Wichita Heights was a 2012 Class 6A semifinal battle in Wichita in which the Buffs played one of their best games of the season, falling to the Falcons in a 1-0 nailbiter when Edgar Montoya had thrown a one-hit gem.
Tuesday, the same two schools, with different players for each team dotting the starting lineup, played a twinbill at Clint Lightner Stadium, and the Buffs would have given just about anything to have the same kind of performance as they did in 2012.
But that didn't happen, as the Falcons run-ruled the Buffs twice, going back to the Air Capital City with convincing 10-0 and 13-3 triumphs.
The twin setbacks left the Buffs reeling in the early going of the season with an 0-4 record. They will have a week to regroup and get ready for their home doubleheader on Tuesday against TMP-Marian of Hays, the reigning Class 3A regional champion.
"We continue to struggle in so many different parts of the game," Buffs' coach Bill Wilson said. "We're struggling to find our Nos. 2, 3, 4 pitchers, we're still not swinging the bats well and when you combine those things, you're going to have a tough time."
There really was no dramatics to either game, as the Falcons jumped on Montoya for four runs in the first inning of Game 1 and then did the same thing in Game 2 against starter Andy Saldivar.
From those deficits, the Buffs could never recover, and their bats continued to be silent, getting only three hits in the opener and managing just four in the nightcap.
Meanwhile, the Buffs' pitching corps was pelted by the Falcons, who came out looking like they had played several games, rather than appearing in their own season-opening contests.
Heights pounded out 11 hits in the opener and and duplicated that output in the second game.
"Heights came out swinging the bats and got comfortable at the plate early," Wilson said. "We'd play two, three innings pretty well and then the floodgates would open."
The Falcons' used three left-handed pitchers to stymie the Buffs' bats, as Mitchell Hernandez and Marcus Zapata were the only Buffs to get more than one hit in the two games.
Garden City used a three-run second inning in Game 2 to trim the Falcons' lead in half when Saldivar scored on a passed ball, and then Zapata added a run-scoring single and Thomas Solorio an RBI double to deep centerfield.
But just like Heights had taken control in Game 1, the Falcons did the same in Game 2.
In the opener, Heights led 4-0 after one and then ended the game on the 10-run mercy rule with six runs in the fifth. Jordan Plank, meanwhile, kept Garden in check by striking out nine and walking just two in picking up the win. Montoya, who went the distance, finishing with three strikeouts and four walks, was saddled with his second loss in two outings.
"When Edgar's on, I feel he can keep us in any game," Wilson said. "We've got to find a way for him to get a rhythm early. He had those next three innings where he was really pretty good."
The Buffs had no answer for many of the Heights' batters, most notably second baseman Blake Day, who had five hits in the two games, drove in six runs (3 in each), including a two-run home run in the first inning of the opener.
About the only bright spots at the plate for the Buffs were Mitchell Hernandez, who had two hits to go with his three hits in the season openers and has now gone 5-for-11 (.455). Zapata had a pair of hits while Solorio had that run-scoring double to deep center which came close to being a home run. Saldivar, who started the second game, suffered his second straight loss. Hernandez pitched the final two innings for the Buffs.
Wichita Heights 400 06 -- 10 11 0
Garden City 000 00 -- 0 3 1
WP--Heights (Plank), LP--Garden City (Montoya, 0-2). 2B--WH (Watkins 2, Farrington, Day). 3B--WH (Whitten). HR--WH (Day). LOB--Heights 3, Garden City 3.
Wichita Heights 420 34 -- 13 11 0
Garden City 030 00 -- 3 4 3
WP--Heights (Watkins, 1-0), LP--Garden City (Saldivar, 0-2). 2B--WH (Watkins). 3B--WH (Whitten). LOB--Heights 7, Garden City 7.
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