Through eight shutout innings Monday night at Clint Lightner Stadium, Garden City Wind starting pitcher Casey Collins was rolling. He had allowed just two hits and walked three, while striking out 12 visiting Santa Fe, N.M., batters.
But the ninth had to be played.
Leading 2-0, Collins walked the first two batters and induced a ground out, but then two singles knotted the score. Collins was then pulled for Jack Finnegan, who got the first batter to fly out, but then Santa Fe third baseman Matt Telesco singled to bring in the go-ahead run, and send the Wind to their eighth-consecutive loss, 3-2.
Officially eliminated from postseason contention late last week, the Wind continued its late-season swoon with the heartbreaking defeat, falling to 17-34. Collins took the hard-luck loss, going 8 1/3 innings and allowing three runs on four hits and five walks.
The Fuego, still looking for a postseason berth, are 27-21 and 5 1/2 games back in the division, and 3 1/2 behind second-place Roswell, N.M.
Reliever Dylan Norries picked up the win for Santa Fe with his one shutout inning. Nick Hornbaker closed the Wind out for the save, allowing just a walk in the ninth.
The Wind’s runs came on a Taylor Ellis RBI single in the second, and then Mike Rachun’s double in the sixth to plate Nick Stoll. That was all the scoreboard would change until the fateful ninth.
The two teams meet again for the second game of a three-game set at Lightner at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.