Four times Erica Vessels stepped up to the plate. Four times she rounded the bases and ended up at the plate again after a home run, as Garden City Community College’s leadoff hitter hit what is believed to be a school record four home runs and drove in 10 RBIs in Saturday’s doubleheader opener at Northwest Kansas Tech as the Broncbusters rolled to the 14-2 win.
But the Busters — and Vessels — were not done yet, as Vessels added another home run, two more hits and three RBIs in the 13-2 nightcap win, which also featured a first-inning grand slam from Jessy Ortiz.
The Busters improved to 18-16 overall and 8-8 in the KJCCC with the sweep.
“It was a good day,” GCCC head coach Becky Gundy said in a text message Saturday.
Garden City 14, Northwest Kansas 2
Vessels took pitch one for a strike, then turned on the second pitch and sent it over the left field fence for a home run to leadoff the day’s opener, a harbinger of what was to come.
A batter later, Taylore Hartman also homered to make it 2-0.
After the Mavericks made it 2-1, Vessels hit her second home run — this time a three-run blast — in the second to extend the lead to 5-1.
She made it three straight innings with a home run in the third, with another three-run shot to left to make it 9-1. And, finally, in the fourth, Vessels hit her third three-run home run to make it 13-1. The only thing that kept Vessels from hitting a fifth home run was that she was left in the on deck circle in the fifth inning, and then the game ended early due to the run-rule after the Mavericks failed to get the score closer than 14-2 after five innings.
Samantha Akers got the win from the pitching circle, giving up five hits and one earned run in five innings. She improved to 10-6 for the season.
Garden City 13, Northwest Kansas 2
Vessels’ home run streak came to an end in her first at bat of the nightcap, as she managed just a lowly single to leadoff the game.
The Busters failed to score in the opening frame, and went into the second inning in a scoreless tie. But that’s when Ortiz struck. First, Bailey Brawner singled and Hannah Adams tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but an error allowed her to reach and Brawner to advance to third.
Devin Hernandez singled to drive in Brawner, and Angel Jimenez singled to load the bases for Ortiz, who sent the 1-0 pitch center for the grand slam and the 5-0 lead.
The Busters added two more runs before the rally was over, established a dominant advantage. Angel Jimenez added a solo home run in the third, before Vessels hit her fifth home run of the day — and fourth three-run blast — in the fourth give the Busters a 12-0 lead as the Busters cruised to the run-rule shortened victory once again, racking up 18 hits in 33 at bats.
Ariel Denney got the win in a complete-game, five-hitter while she struck out eight.