GCCC splits with Butler on Thursday
Chris Finnegan reminded his team that Butler, who only played three games entering Thursday's conference series because of the health and safety protocol, was chomping at the bit to get back on the field. And they definitely looked like a team that was sick and tired of being in quarantine.
Noah Argenta clubbed three hits and knocked in four runs, Braden Meek tossed a complete-game two-hitter, and Butler run-ruled Garden City 10-0 Thursday afternoon at Williams Stadium.
"We just couldn't get anything going," Finnegan said afterwards. "We just never found a groove."
Starter, Andrew Petrowski was just a tick off from the beginning. He walked Jackson Syring to start the game; then gave up a single to Bryce Zimmerer and a run-scoring base hit to Noah Argenta. He followed that up by plunking Josh Cameron on the arm before serving up an RBI single to Jonah Cox and back-to-back bases-loaded walks that put Butler up 4-0.
Things only got worse from there.
Zach Stroh added an RBI groundout in the 3rd before the Grizzlies put a stranglehold on the game in the 4th, chasing Petrowski while scoring three more runs including Cameron's RBI triple that made it 8-0.
"You just can't keep giving good teams opportunities," Finnegan added. "We minimized that in the second game, but we didn't do a good job in the first."
Butler finished off the run-rule in the 5th thanks to Argenta, who collected his third hit of the day: a two-run single to center that put the Grizzlies up 10-0. Garden City went in order in their half.
Petrowski lasted only 3.1 innings, giving up seven earned runs on six hits while walking four for Garden City. Ayers recorded the final two outs of the fourth and struck out one, and Cameron Sistrunk was charged with two runs on two hits.
Meantime Meek needed only 57 pitches to earn his first victory of 2021 for Butler, who improved to 3-1 overall.
Assistant Coach Jay Gundy said it best following game two of the Broncbusters' opening conference series with Butler.
"The Jayhawk is just a whole different deal," he shouted out while walking back to the locker room.
The longtime coach couldn't have said it any better.
Following their game one drubbing, the Broncbusters regrouped in a big way. Southern University transfer, Michael Wright collected three hits, Raul Garcia notched his second win of the season, and Garden City answered their run-rule loss with a 6-4 victory in game two Thursday afternoon at Williams Stadium.
"I've told our guys the teams that find a way to bounce back quicker, are the ones that will be successful," Head Coach Chris Finnegan said. "The teams that can't figure out their mistakes and correct them are the ones who will struggle. We figured some things out in that second game."
Well, the first thing that Garden City figured out was to hand the ball to southpaw Raul Garcia, who blended his pitches perfectly in four solid innings where he allowed just one earned run on three hits and struck out three. It was by no means perfect, but Garcia never seem rattled, even when Butler knotted things up with two runs in the fourth.
"When you're putting up zeros on the pitching side of things, that helps," Finnegan stated.
It also helped that Garcia was spotted an early lead on Kyle Jameson's picture-perfect sacrifice push bunt up the first-base line in the 2nd that allowed Ibrhaim Rodriguez to score from third. An inning later, Will Gardner provided a two-out RBI knock when he fought off a Braxton Hyde fastball and stroked it into left to put the Broncbusters up 2-0. But the Grizzlies drew even in the 4th. Noah Argenta doubled home a run; then scored on a passed ball. Garcia though avoided any further damage by striking out Johnathan Contreras and getting Zach Stroh to ground out.
The Broncbusters went back in front in their half of the 4th when Ryan Muniz provided a two-out, RBI single to right to make it 3-2. But with runners at the corners, Garden City couldn't stretch the lead, and Geoff Marlow bounced out to second.
Those stranded runners came back to bite the Broncbusters in the 5th when Jackson Syring began a two-out rally with a five-pitch walk before Bryce Zimmerer mashed a sinking liner down the first-base line that knotted the score at 3.
After Garden City grabbed the advantage again in the bottom half on Mason Mitchell's run-scoring single, Butler drew even one more time when Josh Cameron knocked a base hit to left; made it to third on an error; then came home on Jonah Cox's sacrifice fly. But the Broncbusters took the lead for good in the 6th on Tyler Barth's sac fly; then added some insurance in the 8th when Michael Wright clobbered an RBI double to the gap to make it 6-4.
The bullpen, more specifically Caleb Ayers took it from there.
The freshman right hander collected his second consecutive save striking out three straight batters after surrendering a lead-off single to Sam Siegel in the 9th. He along with DJ Burke and Ryan Estey allowed just one earned run over five innings of relief. It was a welcome sight for Finnegan.
"We got some good starting pitching, and our bullpen was better," he said.
Barth finished 2-for-3 at the plate for the Broncbusters, and Mitchell and Jameson each recorded multi-hit games.
Grizzlies' starter, Braxton Hyde was charged with two earned runs on seven hits in 3.2 innings.
The two teams finished out the four game series on Friday at Williams Stadium, weather permitting.