With just eight conferences game remaining in the regular season entering Thursday, the Garden City Community College baseball team needed to hit its stride, and quickly.
To begin the day, the Busters looked nearly locked into seventh place in the KJCCC West, meaning a road trip to the East Divison’s second-place team, either 40-win Johnson County or 34-win Cowley.
But as the Busters left Concordia after sweeping a twin bill against the host Cloud County T-Birds, the Busters are in a much better spot. After wins of 6-0 and 2-1, the Busters are 26-19 overall and 12-14 in the West, just two games behind three other teams, including Cloud County (27-20, 14-12).
The Busters continue their four-game series with Cloud County at 1 p.m. at Williams Stadium on Saturday.
Eric Heiman tossed six scoreless innings, Chris Lara slugged a two-run double and the Busters cruised to a 6-0 win over the T-Birds in the opener.
Heiman scattered four hits and three walks, while striking out eight, before giving way to Paxton Robinson for the final inning.
Sean Klein opened the scoring with an RBI double in the first, plating Jake Barber, who singled to lead off the inning. Klein came around to score later in the inning to make it an early 2-0 lead.
In the fourth, the Busters blew it open. After back-to-back singles to open the frame, Lara doubled to left to make it 4-0. Then, Dyan Rodriguez singled to left to drive in another, and Corbin Truslow capped the rally with an RBI single of his own.
Heiman moved to 3-3 with a 5.40 ERA this season.
Malachi Crone tossed seven scoreless innings for another quality start for the Busters on Thursday, allowing Garden City to hold a 1-0 lead into the eighth — thanks to a balk by Cloud County Joseph Karall in the second that allowed Brenden Andersen to score from third.
But in the eighth, Buster reliever Jacob Douglas allowed an RBI single to Jackson Dietel, drawing the T-Birds even at 1.
No matter, Chris Lara delivered the game-winning run in the ninth, plating Dakota Finley with a single to left. Finley had reached with a leadoff single, and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and then to third on a Cloud County error.
Douglas threw a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth to seal the Busters’ win.