Garden City splits with Dodge City
Following the second inning of Thursday's series opener verse Dodge City, Amy Schmeckpeper gathered her team in front of the dugout and asked them if they were ready to play. After all, they had just given up seven runs over the first two frames. But even a fiery speech by the first-year coach couldn't stop the red-hot Conquistadors who exploded for a season-high in runs.
Karliann Bauer and Madyson McCage each smashed two home runs, the Conquistadors slugged out 22 hits, and Dodge City smoked Garden City Community College 21-5 in five innings at Tangeman Sports Complex.
"We just weren't ready to play," Schmeckpeper said. "We were kind of sleeping, and they put some runs on us early."
As good as the Broncbusters have been this season, they have had some game-one clunkers. But Thursday almost seemed like an aberration; the perfect storm, and Dodge City cashed in on a rare off day for starting pitcher Tara Reid.
Daysha Mendez led off the game with a homer, Kalei Villegas swiped home, and Jordan Irwin singled up the middle to put Dodge City in front 3-0 after a half inning. After Garden City sliced the deficit to one on Lacey Kearsley's two-run double in the bottom half, the Conquistadors tagged Reid for four more in the second, and when Bauer blasted a two-run line-drive shot to left, Dodge City was up 7-2.
"Once they put runs on us fast, we never made any adjustments at the plate," Schmeckpeper said. "But it comes down to being ready to play."
The knockout blow though came in the fourth where everything unraveled for the Broncbusters. Dodge City pounded out nine runs on seven hits, took advantage of two Garden City errors, sent 14 batters to the plate, and hammered two home runs: a two-run shot by McCage and a two-run dinger to left by AJ Poell that gave the Conquistadors a 17-3 advantage. They plated four more in the fifth including McCage's second homer of the day that capped the scoring.
"We needed to adjust better, but things got out of control at that point," Schmeckpeper added.
Reid, who's been the Broncbusters ace all season, lasted only 1.1 innings, allowing seven runs on six hits including two home runs. Kearsley tossed 1.2 innings of three-hit ball in relief before Elycia Johnson surrendered 11 runs on nine hits in just one inning of work. Nya Chacon finished 2-for-2 at the plate, belting her 18th homer of the season in the fifth.
Mendez and Irwin each collected four hits for Dodge City. Poell was 3-for-4, and Danika Utajara picked up the win in the circle, giving up two earned runs on seven hits in five innings.
It's as if game one never happened; that's been Garden City's mentality this season. And in Thursday's series finale, the Broncbusters did a complete 180 - again.
Lacey Kearsley struck out six, Nya Chacon knocked in two runs, and the Broncbusters earned a split, edging Dodge City 6-4 at Tangeman Sports Complex. With the win, the Broncbusters improved to 18-12 overall and 11-3 in conference play. They currently have a two-game lead over Colby for first place in the west.
"We definitely cleaned things up in that second game," Head Coach Amy Schmeckpeper said. "I thought Lacey did a really good job with her command."
It wasn't the offensive pyrotechnics that most have become accustomed to seeing this year from Garden City. But they found a way, and Chacon's RBI groundout in the first gave them an early 1-0 lead. They padded it with five more in the second, including three-straight run-scoring singles by Carly Powley, Chacon and Kearsley that made it 6-0.
"We were able to string some things together, especially in that second inning," Schmeckpeper explained. "We figured out what we needed to do."
Dodge City responded in the third, taking advantage of an error by Elycia Johnson at third. AJ Poell responded with a two-run single, and Karliann Bauer hit a sacrifice fly to cut the Broncbuster lead to 6-3.
Kearsley though patched the hole very quickly working around a two-out double in the fourth to strike out Makayla Garcia. She executed a 1-2-3 fifth and escaped major damage in the sixth once a pair of errors allowed a run to score. The freshman yielded a two-out double in the seventh before ending the game by fanning Poell.
Kearsley earned her sixth win of the season, allowing four runs on four hits in seven innings, and Erykah Foster went 2-for-2 at the plate.
Makayla Kolojay took the loss for Dodge City, giving up six runs (only one earned) on nine hits in six innings. She walked three.