After getting swept in Hutchinson on Thursday, the Garden City Community College Broncbusters were looking to return the favor on Sunday in Garden City, playing their first home conference games of the season at Williams Stadium.
The Busters got a clutch two-run double from Corbin Truslow in the fifth inning of the opener Sunday to win that game, 4-2, but failed to complete a few routine plays in the second game that cost them in a 9-8 loss.
“It’s disappointing when you lose two one-run games and you lose a two-run game (in the series) when every single game you had opportunities to put yourself in a position to win,” GCCC head coach Chris Finnegan said.
His Busters fell to 18-12 overall and 4-8 in the KJCCC West, tied for seventh with Dodge City.
Garden City had a chance to split, rallying in the second game from a 4-0 hole to a 5-4 lead with a five-run outburst in the second inning. But two errors led to a pair of late Hutchinson runs, and then the Busters failed to get a sacrifice bunt down in the eighth with a potential game-tying runner on first and no one out.
“Those situations are the same as in practice, and we just didn’t execute sometimes when we needed to,” GCCC sophomore slugger Corbin Truslow said. “ … it’s tough too come out and grind and play your butt off and not come out victorious.”
Every game in the series was a grind, as the total margin between the two teams was just two runs in Hutchinson’s favor. And yet, the Dragons (18-10, 10-6) won the series thanks to a couple of chances the Busters missed, which was frustrating to Finnegan.
“Any time you have the opportunity to execute the little things you do day in and day out, and you do not execute it, it gets to a point where enough is enough. We either find somebody else to do it or we’re going to have to reinvent how we’re going to run the offense this year,” Finnegan said.
Hutchinson took an early 1-0 lead in Game 1 when starting pitcher Dylan Nedved helped his own effort with an RBI double to right off Buster starter Connery O’Donnell. Then Zion Bowlin homered to lead off the fourth to give Hutchinson the 2-0 lead, but that’s all O’Donnell would allow.
“We got an unbelievable start out of O’Donnell,” Finnegan said of the six-inning, two-run effort.
The Buster offense cut the deficit in half when Finley reached and advanced to second on an error, and then moved to third on Chris Lara’s sacrifice bunt. Colin Stone brought him in with a groundout up the middle.
The Busters then rallied in the fifth, with Griffin Brunson sparking the run with a leadoff double, and Jake Barber singled him in. Turner McDonald plated Brunson with a single to left to tie the game, and Corbin Truslow immediately followed with a single up the middle to score the game-winning runs.
Hutchinson threatened in the sixth with back-to-back two-out singles, but O’Donnell struck out Christopher Noble to end the inning.
The Busters went to the bullpen for the seventh and final inning, bringing in Luis Padilla, who got into trouble to begin the inning, giving up a pair of singles. But after a flyout, Padilla induced a soft comebacker for the game-clinching double play.
Zane Schmidt put the Dragons on top early once again in the nightcap, sending a 1-0 pitch from Darrian Escobar-Winter over the right field fence for the two-run home run. The Dragons added two more when Will Reetz tripled to right-center in the second to drive in two and make it 4-0.
But the Busters answered in the bottom half of the inning, sparked by three consecutive one-out singles. Griff Brunson grounded out to make it 4-2 with two outs. Jake Barber singled in another run, and after a pair of walks, Klein singled to left to plate two and give the Busters the 5-4 lead.
Ryan Moritz immediately drew the Dragons even with an RBI double in the third. That’s where it stood until the fifth, when Nedved doubled in another run, and then came around to score on an attempted double steal later in the inning to make it 7-5.
After the Busters cut the deficit in half, the Busters handed the Dragons a break, when Finley airmailed his routine throw from third into the stands, allowing Zach Baxley to score all the way from second.
Hutchinson stretched that lead to 9-6 in the seventh, when Moritz grounded into a double play but plated a run with the bases loaded. Hutchinson returned the defensive favor in the bottom half of the inning, when Nedved bobbled a throw on what could have been an inning-ending double play that turned into a two-run error to make it 9-8.
The Busters almost caught another break in the eighth, when Colin Stone struck out but advanced to first not the dropped third strike.
But Chris Lara failed to get a bunt down on three-straight pitches, striking out. Griff Brunson was able to get a bunt down to advance the runner to second, but now the Busters had two outs instead of one. Jake Barber was then unable to find a clutch hit, and the Busters were forced to go into the ninth down a run still.
“We keep kicking ourselves in the rear end,” Finnegan said, “and it’s something that’s got to stop. And unfortunately I don’t know how to stop it right now.”
Hutch reliever Matt Hopkins shut the door in the ninth, going to multiple full counts against the core of the Busters’ lineup in the ninth, but the sophomore right-hander got out of it unscathed.
“Their guys made some good pitches in some situations, but we’ve got to be better offensive if we want to be a good club,” GCCC head coach Chris Finnegan said.