A late Garden City High School rally in the second game Tuesday was stopped short and the Buffaloes (11-7,4-4) were forced to split the doubleheader against the visiting Wichita Heights Falcons, winning the first game 4-1 before dropping the nightcap 9-6 at Clint Lightner Field for senior night.
“I thought we played very well in the first game,” said head coach Justin Reich of his team performance on Tuesday. “We had good approaches at the plate, were able to get people on base and we were able to execute our offensive game plan where we get out and run.”
“The second game was a different story,” Reich continued. ”Defensively we kicked the ball around, threw it around and didn't make the easy plays. Offensively our approach wasn't as good as the first game.”
Game one started was a great rebound game for the Buffaloes, after a disappointing sweep at the hands of Wichita North last Friday.
After two scoreless innings by both teams, Garden City got on the board first after two Buffaloes stole home base on consecutive at-bats. Senior Rawley Davidson and Ethan Martin did their best Jackie Robinson impressions, and giving the Buffaloes the early 2-0 lead after the third inning. Both steals came with two outs in the inning.
Home base was stolen a third time in the fourth inning by senior Elier Arreola, extending the Buffalo lead to 3-0. The two teams exchanged runs in the fifth, as the Buffaloes did enough to close out game one with a 4-1 win.
Junior Jayden Escamilla earned the win, striking out five falcons on 54 pitches in four innings of work.
Game two was a day and night difference between how the Buffaloes played on both sides of the ball.
Senior Cooper Thayer got things off started off well enough for the Buffaloes, string out the first batter of the game and getting another Falcon out, to give Garden City two outs in the opening inning.
But three consecutive miscues from the infield, allowed Wichita Heights to score the opening runs of the game, giving them the early 2-0 lead. A Falcon ground out finally ended that disastrous top half of the first inning for the Buffaloes.
“That's kind have been the story of the year when we’ve had issues,” Reich said. “When we play well we keep the infield, we hit the ball well and have a good approach at the plate. That just kind of how its been.”
Garden City did answer back in the bottom half of the inning, after senior Easton Lager singled on a ground ball to bring in junior Koby Acker for the Buffaloes first run of the game.
After Lager’s RBI single, a wild pitch positioned two Buffaloes in scoring position which were immediately brought in by junior Aaron Urrutia single, to give Garden City their first lead of the game at 3-2 at the end of the second.
Two line-throttling fair balls, down the third base line, started the second inning for the Falcons, followed by two infield singles evened up the score for Wichita Heights at 3-3. That was then followed by a bases-clearing double, bringing in three runs more runs, giving the Falcons a 6-3 lead.
Once again the Buffaloes answered in the bottom of the second, when a wild pitch brought in Arreola, cutting the Falcon lead to 6-4, Unfortunately for the Buffaloes , that would be the only run for the four innings.
The defensive miscues that plagued the Buffaloes in the first two innings, reared their head again the sixth inning, sinking them for three runs in the crucial inning. The three runs extending Wichita Heights lead to 9-4.
“When we have problems, the biggest problem is ourselves, it's never been our opponents. Letting people stick around in games or letting them get leads in games and then we have to fight out of them,” said Reich.
Garden City did show some fight in the bottom half of the seventh inning, bringing in two runs to make the game interesting, but it wasn't enough as the Buffaloes dropped the second game of the doubleheader, 9-6.
Although not the result Garden City wanted, the seniors were able to get one win on their last homestand as Buffaloes.
Reich has only been there for a short time, but has admired at how hard the seniors have worked for him during his tenure as head coach, “I’ve only been here for only two years, but just the change in these guys from year one to year two has been pretty dramatic.”
The Buffaloes hard work hasn't gone unnoticed, “They’ve busted their butt in the weight room, they've busted their butt all summer and in the offseason. They have paved the way for the younger guys, and that means a lot to me and it means a lot to the school. These guys are great examples of great young people in our community.”