Despite out-hitting Liberal 11-7, the Garden City Buffaloes baseball team committed three costly errors that proved to be the difference in the Redskins’ 4-2 victory Tuesday night in Liberal.
The loss dropped the Buffaloes’ season record to 4-14 overall and 2-6 in the Western Athletic Conference while the Redskins improved to 15-5 and 7-1.
While the WAC season has been concluded, the Buffs have two regular-season games remaining, that being a home doubleheader on Thursday against Wichita West with the first pitch coming at 3 p.m.
Liberal got on the board with a single run in the first when Francisco Terrazas singled in Dylan Thompson.
The Redskins added two more runs in their half of the second, that coming on Elijah McCarter’s 2-run single, making it 3-0.
The Buffs finally got things going offensively in the top of the third, with Andrew Kreutzer and David Arteaga opening with back-to-back singles. They advanced to second and third on a groundout, and then Elier Arreola singled in Arteaga.
Arteaga then came home on a throwing error by Liberal’s first baseman, making it 3-2.
Liberal scored an insurance run in its half of the sixth, when Syris Dunlap scored on a passed ball.
The Buffs, who had stranded two runners in the fourth but had gone down in order in the fifth and sixth, had one final opportunity to score.
Kreutzer singled with one out in the seventh and then Cooper Thayer singled with two outs. Auston Waetzig reached on an infield single to load the bases, only to have the potential rally flame out when Arreola flied to right to end the game.
Thayer pitched the first three innings, using 39 pitches in limiting the Redskins to four hits, and while three runs came in during his mound appearance, no runs were earned. He had one strikeout and no walks.
“Cooper pitched really well and we limited his pitch count so we could have him for the West game on Thursday,” head coach Justin Reich said. “And Jayden (Escamilla) also did a great job in relief and I thought we competed really well.”
Escamilla pitched three innings to finish out the game, giving up three hits, one run (unearned), striking out three and walking three.
Liberal’s Braxton Hyde, meanwhile, survived the 11-hit Buffalo attack, yielding just two runs, one earned, striking out six and walking none.
Andrew Kreutzer’s 3-hit effort topped the Buffs’ offense and David Arteaga had two while six others got one hit each.
“Overall, this game is a positive for us,” Reich said. “Moving forward, if we continue to play the way we did, and fix one or two small things, I think we can give some of the teams a battle here at the end.”
Reich was happy that his team didn’t give up the big inning as they’ve done in many losses this season, and said a couple of missed opportunities and execution on a few plays might have changed the outcome.
“We played well enough to have a chance to win,” Reich said. “Liberal’s the best team in the WAC (7-1) and we gave them a really good game today.”