Garden City Community College pitchers Austin Stone and Eric Heiman each struck out 11 batters and picked up a win in the Broncbusters’ season-opening doubleheader on Friday afternoon and evening.
Stone pitched a five-inning complete game in a 14-4 run-rule shortened win over visiting Trinidad State (Colo.) in the opener, while Heiman tossed 5 1/3 innings in an 11-5, nine-inning victory in the nightcap. The Trojans also were opening their season, after going 36-24 in 2017.
The wins get the Busters’ season off on the right foot, even if it was a bit shakier than head coach Chris Finnegan would have liked.
“We were fortunate to get a couple of wins. We got away with a lot of mistakes today,” Finnegan said as his Busters go 2-0 to begin the year, ahead of a Sunday doubleheader re-match with Trinidad in La Junta, Colorado (1 p.m.).
While Stone allowed just five hits and two earned runs, and striking out 11 and walking one, Finnegan said his fastball was elevated and he worked behind in the count too much, getting away with it because Trinidad chased balls out of the zone.
Still, it worked, and the Busters’ bats scored runs in each of the four innings they got an at-bat — a fifth-inning at bat was not needed due to the run rule. Clint Allen and Robbie Young each hit two-run home runs, and Young added a pair of RBI triples.
Allen, Young, catcher Ty Barclay and two-hole hitter Griffin Brunson, a Garden City High School graduate, each had multiple hits.
“I thought we swung it well today, especially Game 1,” Finnegan said.
The Busters’ lineup got off to a quick start in the nightcap, too, scoring runs in each of the first three innings, establishing a 9-3 lead. In the first, Young doubled in Allen, who reached on a double to lead off the frame. In the second, Young singled in two more runs, and tripled in three more in the third. An RBI groundout in the seventh gave him seven RBIs for the game.
The Buster offense, as a whole, cooled off after the third inning, though, scoring single tallies in the seventh and eighth, respectively.
That was more than enough for Heiman, another former Garden City High player, who struck out 11, walked none and allowed seven hits and three earned runs
“I thought Eric had a really good first start,” Finnegan said. “He’s got to be better when he’s ahead 0-1, 0-2. There was a lot of barrels there, so he’s got to get better at finishing batters.”
But Heiman was ahead of most hitters, throwing first-pitch strikes to 17 of the 28 batters he faced, giving him the advantage. After he left in the sixth with a runner on third and a run already in, reliever AJ Stephens got a double play to end the inning.
The Busters also got a scoreless relief inning from Scott Waterman and two from Nick Iossi to seal the win.
The Busters and Trojans meet up again Sunday for a pair of seven-inning games.