Reagan Nordby hit a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the eighth of Monday’s opener against Dodge City, delivering both the 6-5 win and the WAC title to the Garden City Buffaloes.
“I was so excited,” a beaming Nordby said of the clutch knock, after the Buffs also had rallied late in the nightcap to win 6-4.
The hit came after the Buffs rallied for two runs in the bottom of the seventh — getting a triple from Yazmin Vargas, an RBI single from Hailey Dart and a run-scoring error — to send the game into extra innings.
And then after Kelbi Richter led off by reaching first on a Dodge City error, Gisselle Gutierrez doubled to center with one out, moving Richter to third. On an 0-2 pitch, Nordby came up big.
“I think that was huge for her,” said GCHS coach Trina Moquett. “She’s been our nine-hole, been down there the whole time, but she’s been hitting the ball so well for us … For her to do that, I’m really proud of her.”
Nordby also doubled twice earlier in the game, going 3 for 4 with two RBIs and one run. Dart got the win, tossing a total of six innings, giving up nine hits and five runs, while striking out six.
With the win, the Buffs locked up the WAC title, rendering Monday’s nightcap slightly less important than it otherwise would have been. But the Buffs (13-1, 7-1) have bigger goals, as well.
“Today, coming into this, we have a larger goal, but today was WAC. Today was that goal, and we accomplished it,” Moquett said, “and we went past it. After Game 1, we could have shut down and said that was good enough, but we didn’t.”
The Buffs are playing for regional seeding, as well. The top six teams in the west were all separated by three losses entering Monday, meaning the Buffs could not afford very many slip-ups. After splitting with Great Bend on Thursday, the Buffs were determined not to let that happen again Monday.
“We knew we had won it in the first game, but we wanted revenge,” Nordby said “We wanted to win both and not split.”
To do that, the Buffs had to rally again. First, Dodge City’s Marisela Landa opened scoring with a home run in the fourth, before Lauren Koster’s RBI single in the bottom half of the inning drew the Buffs even.
But an error in the fifth allowed two Dodge City runners to score, followed by Caroline Stephenson’s RBI single to put the Demons up three. Dodge City returned the favor with an error in the bottom half of the inning that allowed the Buffs to get within 4-2, but they had to wait until the sixth for the big rally.
Richter and Taylor Terpstra each singled to lead off the inning, and Koster laid down a sacrifice bunt. Gutierrez was hit by a pitch, and Jazmine Rockwell walked to plate one run.
Two batters later, Vargas grounded to second, and Nordby was initially ruled out on her run to second, which would have ended the inning. But the call was overturned, resulting in a tie game.
Dart then singled to left to drive in what turned out to be the game-winning runs.
The Buffs travel to Emporia for two games on Friday and Saturday.