Garden City Community College’s baseball team successfully opened its 2018 Jayhawk Conference season Thursday with a pair of drama-filled victories at Williams Stadium.
The Broncbusters opening conference game was the tightest as they used an RBI, walk-off single from Corbin Truslow to score Clint Allen with the winning run in the bottom of the eighth for an 8-7 victory over the Cloud County Thunderbirds.
In the nightcap, the Busters didn’t have to go extra innings, but it was still a hard-fought battle with the T-Birds, claiming a 6-4 victory by scoring five runs in the fifth and sixth innings to come back from 4-3 deficit.
The twin victories improved the Busters’ overall season record to 14-6 and extended their mini-winning streak to five games.
The same two teams will now head to Concordia for a doubleheader on Saturday, with the first game pitch to be thrown at 1 p.m. It is a new schedule format for this season in the Jayhawk Conference rather than the old 4-game series at one site on Saturday-Sunday.
In that deciding eighth inning, Allen opened with a leadoff single, went to second on a passed ball and then was followed by Griff Brunson, who was hit by a pitch as was Robbie Young. That loaded the bases with nobody out and Truslow delivered the RBI single to right.
“We got a little lucky with the two wins, just lucky,” GCCC head coach Chris Finnegan said. “We let a three-run lead in the first game get away from us in the second game — our bullpen kind of fell apart in that one, but we found a way to get the clutch runs and get the wins.”
The teams traded four-run outbursts in the third inning of the opener before the Busters scored twice in the fifth and once in the sixth, that one coming on a solo home run by Brunson, former Garden City High School standout.
Austin Stone, who had thrown the first six innings, was relieved by Nick Iossi, who tossed one shutout inning and Paxton Robinson followed that with a scoreless eighth, but not without some drama as the T-Birds loaded the bases before Robinson induced Tucker Catlett into a infield popup to end the potential go-ahead threat.
“It feels good to start off 2-0, and good for anybody,” Finnegan said. “But Saturday is a new series and we got to their place and we’re gonna have to be better. We’ve got some things to shore up. We’re still trying to figure out our team.”
Overall, though, Finnegan was happy with the way the Busters’ offense produced. Twenty-three hits and 14 runs in the twin bill. ReJean Bourget had a pair of RBIs in the opener while Truslow and Chris Lara each had two hits in the 13-hit attack.
In the second game, the Busters got a single run in the third before Cloud tagged reliever Eric Heiman for four runs over two and two-thirds innings to go up 4-1.
But the Busters scored twice in the fifth before getting the go-ahead and winning runs in their half of the sixth. Robbie Young and Bourget each had 2 RBIs, while Allen and Brunson had 1 RBI apiece.
Ryan Nason, the fourth pitcher in the game and third reliever for the Busters, picked up the victory despite throwing only two-thirds of an inning. Robinson picked up the save.