A combination of stellar pitching from Hays and a plethora of miscues brought the perfect start to the Garden City High School baseball season to a screeching halt on Friday.
The Buffaloes were swept by the visiting Hays Indians, 7-1 and 12-0, getting run-ruled in the nightcap, as the Buffs dropped to 5-2.
Both of Hays’ starters were stellar, blowing past most of the Buffs’ lineup without much trouble, with Palmer Hutchison and Cody Peterson combining to toss nine scoreless innings in the two routs. Meanwhile, the Hays’ offense racked up 32 hits through the 13 innings played, jumping on Garden City early to take control of both ends of the doubleheader.
After the game, the Buffs held a players’ meeting in the outfield to try to dissect everything that went wrong for a ball club that had started the season 5-0 and seemed to be rolling.
“It’s just focusing on not beating ourselves,” GCHS coach Justin Reich said. “First game, we have a couple of double play situations and we boot the ball or throw it away. We drop a ball at first base, we don’t pick it up and they advance then they score.
“There’s all kinds of little things we need to work on that came back to bit us in the butt over and over and over again today.”
Even if the defense was perfect, Hays’ pitching was too much for the Buffs’ offense.
“It’s been the same thing,” Reich said. “Our timing has been off — we’re getting out on our front foot, and they haven’t corrected that, yet. That’s probably my fault.”
That is one of a few things the Buffs will focus on prior to heading to Great Bend on Friday.
“We’re lucky we’ve got a week before our next game,” Reich said. “We’ve got a week of practice, call out some leaders on our team and hopefully they get some things going in the clubhouse between the players, and maybe look forward to a better start next Friday.”
While Garden City lost its first two games of the year, Hays improved to 8-0, dominating each of the four doubleheaders its played this season.
“ … they (Hays) don’t make errors, so every opportunity you have to get an out or score a run, you have to take advantage of, and we didn’t do that today,” Reich said.
Hutchison was dominant for five innings, allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out six for Hays, before giving way to the Hays bullpen. By then, the Buffs were already down 7-0, and a single run in the seventh is all they could manage against reliever Willie Sennett.
The Indians took the lead in the second, when Cody Peterson singled in a run, and two hit-by-pitches by Buffs’ starter Ethan Newberry later and the Indians were up 2-0.
In the third, Remington Cox and Sennett hit back-to-back RBI singles to make it 4-0. In the fourth, Hutchison doubled to lead off the frame, and then stole third. After Trey Riggs was hit by a pitch, Brock Lummus tripled to left, scoring both runners. Lummus came around to score a batter later to make it 7-0.
Newberry gave up 13 hits and six runs in 3-plus innings. Aaron Urrutia tossed the final 4 innings, giving up just two hits, one run and two walks, but the damage had already been done.
After managing to get just four runners on base through the first five innings combined, the Buffs did get two on in the sixth with two outs, but Urrutia popped out to end the threat.
The Buffs then loaded the bases in the seventh with just one out, but Jayden Escamilla struck out, before Koby Acker singled in a run. Cooper Thayer grounded out to end the game, the Buffs’ first loss of the year.
Peterson allowed just four hits and two walks in his four-inning start, striking out six in the process. Cooper Thayer, who tossed a complete game gem in his first start of the year, was knocked around for eight runs on eights hits and four walks in 2 ⅔ innings.
The Indians scored on an error in the first, and then a passed ball in the second and a two-run single by Hutchison. In the third, Hays plated four more, capped by another RBI single by Hutchison to make it 8-0.
Lummus made it 9-0 in the fifth with an RBI single, and then Sennet drove in two in the sixth off reliever Auston Waetzig, and Hutchinson again capped the inning with another RBI single to eclipse the 10-run minimum for the mercy rule.
Waetzig led off the bottom of the sixth with a single, but the next three batters struck out to end the game an inning early.