The Garden City Broncbusters clubbed 11 hits and scored six runs in Thursday’s Region VI series opener at Johnson County.
The problem was, the host Cavaliers offense — which came into the day scoring nearly 10 runs per game — lived up to its billing, tearing through the Busters’ staff for 18 hits, including seven doubles and a pair of home runs, to rout Garden City, 13-6.
The two teams will meet again at 2 p.m. Friday for Game 2 of the best-of-three series, the winner of which advances to Central District tournament in Wichita on May 15-19.
"We came into this series with no pressure," Finnegan said on the post-game radio of his Busters’ team, which is the 13th seed in the tournament. "On paper, Johnson County expects to beat us pretty bad. But our guys competed."
The Busters (26-26) got on the board first when Sean Klein and Corbin Truslow led off the game with a pair of singles, and then Chris Lara flew out to right field to plate Klein. But a second fly out and a strikeout ended any other Buster threat, and the Cavaliers’ offense went to work.
A pair of singles got the bottom of the first going, and then an RBI groundout tied the game at 1. Two batters later, Chris Esposito doubled to left for the 2-1 lead and then Jacob Owens to score the third run of the inning, which the Busters were able to get out of by throwing out Owens trying to advance to third.
The Cavs (44-10) stretched the lead to 4-1 in the second, and then Owens led off the fourth with a home run to make it 5-1. The Busters rallied in the fifth, cutting the deficit to 5-3 on Klein’s RBI double. But Johnson County put three more runs on the board — including a leadoff home run by Landen Wood — in the bottom half of the inning to pull back away, 8-3.
Buster starter Malachi Crone went back out to pitch the sixth, as well, but gave up a single, double and a walk to load the bases before he was pulled. All three runners came around to score later in the inning, which was capped by Esposito’s two-run double to make it 12-3.
Crone went five innings, giving up 14 hits, 11 runs and two walks.
The Buster offense battled back with a RBI singles from Truslow and Grant Lathrop, followed by a bases loaded walk by Griffin Brunson, to make it 12-6 in the seventh. But the Cavs scored one more in the eighth, and the Buster offense could not find another rally spark.
If the Busters win Friday’s game, the two teams will play again on Saturday. If the Cavs win, the Busters’ season ends.