For most of his first season as the head coach of the Garden City Buffaloes baseball team, Justin Reich has been pleased with the effort of his team.

And yet, the Buffs have struggled in key areas of the game, most notably on the defensive side of things, putting Reich’s squad in the hole early in many games of what is now a 4-12 season.

The latest misfire on defense came Friday night at Emporia’s Soden Grove Park in a 5-3 loss to the host Spartans as part of the two-day Round Ball Classic.

The Buffs will be right back on the diamond at 11:45 a.m. Saturday against Andover Central to finish off the trip to east central Kansas.

The Buffs trailed early on and never fully recovered from a four-run Emporia second inning.

Reich saw signs of life from his team with a two-run third and a single run in the fifth to trim the lead to 5-3, but the Buffs could never get that next hit to cut more into the Spartan advantage.

“It’s the same old song and dance for us,” Reich said in a telephone interview Friday night. “First three innings, we spotted them four runs with four errors, and we couldn’t get ahead in the count.”

The Buffs’ mini-rally in the third came on David Arteaga’s two-run double to center, scoring Isaiah Ramos and Andrew Kreutzer.

Garden’s final run came in the fifth when Kreutzer grounded out and Caedyn Gomez raced home.

Thayer absorbed the loss, giving up just three earned runs of the five scored by the Spartans. He walked two and struck out two in his four innings of work.

“We put together some runs to make a go of it, but we couldn’t get enough together to finish it off,” Reich said. “We’re trying to do everything we can to get the kids ready, but we obviously weren’t ready to play today when we got off the bus. It may be time to mix some things up.”

Following Saturday’s game, the Buffs will travel on Tuesday to Liberal for a single WAC game against the Redskins. First pitch for that is 4 p.m.