Busters baseball set for super regional
Busters set for super regional
By ADAM HOLT
The Garden City Community College baseball team got over one hump by beating Johnson County last weekend. Now comes the next challenge.
The Broncbusters head to Wichita for the Region VI Super-Regional, an eight-team, double-elimination format starting Friday. Garden City (28-25) plays Coffeyville (29-23) at 4 p.m. at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
"Everybody's 0-0 right now again," GCCC head coach Chris Finnegan said. "It's the second part of the postseason, anything cacn happen."
One of the biggest reasons the Busters got a first-round sweep of the Cavaliers was the starting pitching. Bradley Spires and Jake Eikleberry have each won their last three starts, and their steady performances have paced the team.
Spires has been pretty consistent throughout the season, and in his last three starts, pitched a total of 20 1/3 innings, allowing 13 runs, all earned, on 27 hits with seven walks and 14 strikeouts. While the numbers don't jump out at first, consider that he out-dueled Dodge City ace Ross Vance and Johnson County's Matt Blackham, two of the conference's top pitchers.
The left-handed Eikleberry has allowed just one earned run over his last three starts, spanning 21 innings of work. He's only given up eight runs total in that time frame, with 17 hits, three walks and eight strikeouts.
"We've been very fortunate with the way Bradley and Jake have thrown for us," Finnegan said. "On the flip side, if you get quality starts — if any team's starters, you're getting quality innings out of them, it's going to make life a lot easier. One, on your hitters, two, on your defense and three, on your bullpen."
The Busters face the Red Ravens, who finished third in the east division, and swept Hutchinson on Sunday to advance. Coffeyville went 22-14 in division play, including a 6-3 win over then-No. 6 Cowley — and the Tigers are now ranked No. 2. In Coffeyville, Finnegan sees a team exactly like Garden City.
"Going up against Coffeyville, who's the spittin' image of us, and what we do. We mirror them, they mirror us," Finnegan said. "They're gonna run the bases very well, they're gonna throw quality strikes and make the routine play. They're a tough team to beat."
Finnegan said the Busters had luck on their side in their sweep of the Cavaliers last weekend — as evidenced in part by balks by Johnson County pitchers that tied each game and led to a big inning. He was careful to stress that things won't always go that way for Garden City, especially on a neutral site.
And playing their own doppelganger won't be easy for the Busters.
"We're really good at playing teams that are better than us, and we're OK at teams when they're not as talented as us," Finnegan said. "The teams that give us fits are the teams that are just like us."
All games are nine innings, and the run rule is 10 runs after seven innings, with the exception of the championship game. The winner advances to the NJCAA World Series, starting May 25 in Grand Junction, Colo.
Should Garden City beat Coffeyville, it will play the winner of the Cowley-Colby game at 7 p.m. Saturday. If Garden City loses its first game, it will play the Cowley-Colby loser at 1 p.m. Saturday instead, and have a chance to advance through the losers' bracket back to the final.
The other Friday matchups are Fort Scott vs. Neosho County at 10 a.m. and Seward County vs. Kansas City, Kan. at 1 p.m. Colby and Cowley play after Garden City and Coffeyville.