GCHS baseball competes in Emporia Classic

GCHS Athletics
Garden City High School's Peyton Walters winds up to make a pitch during a game earlier this season at Clint Lightner Field.

On Friday night, Garden City High School’s baseball team played one of its best games of the 2021 season, but ultimately fell short in a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Andover Central on the first day of the Emporia Classic.

Whatever happened from the tough loss on Friday to Saturday’s final game of the Classic is anybody’s guess, but the Buffs faced a buzz-saw in Blue Valley-West and fell, 12-2, in a five-inning run rule contest. Blue Valley-West improved their record to 14-4.

ANDOVER CENTRAL

For five innings, Garden City pitcher Peyton Walters was having one of his best performances of the 2021 spring season on Friday.

But the sixth inning proved to be the lone hiccup in an otherwise stellar effort, and the result was a disheartening 2-1 loss to Andover Central in the opening day of the Emporia Classic.

Walters had held Andover Central scoreless, and had limited the Jaguars to just a lead-off single in the first before retiring 17 consecutive batters. He had retired the first two hitters of the sixth with his team leading 1-0.

But then, Walters was tagged by Elliott Easton with a triple to center field. Jack Bell drew the lone walk of the game by Walters to put runners at the corner with two outs. Catcher Koby Acker committed an error, scoring Easton with the tying run with Bell advancing to second. On a two-strike, two-out pitch from Walters Alex Ronk hit a fly to center that was misplayed by Ricardo Almanza, scoring Bell with the go-ahead run.

The Buffs’ offense, which was silent most of the game, went down in 1-2-3 order in the top of the seventh to end the low-scoring affair.

Garden City had taken its early lead in the second inning when Kaiden Luna doubled to open the frame. After two outs, Caleb Wiese doubled to left, scoring Luna for that 1-0 lead that stood until the sixth inning downfall.

Luna had two of the four Buffs’ hits, with a double and single while Wiese and Camden Munoz had the other safeties. Walters, who pitched all six innings, struck out eight in one of his best control efforts of the season. He finished with 103 pitches.

Ronk, who pitched in relief of starter Jacob Horn for the final two innings, took the win.

The loss dropped the Buffs’ season record to 9-5 and they will turn right around Saturday and play Blue Valley-West at 11:45 a.m. in the final day of the Classic. The Buffs will travel to Hays on Tuesday, May 11, to take on the Thomas More Prep-Marian Monarchs in a non-league doubleheader starting at 4 p.m.

Garden City 010 000 0 -- 1 4 2

Andover Central 000 002 x -- 2 2 0

GC—Walters (L) and Acker; AC—Horn, Ronk (W, 6) and Buffington. 2B—GC (Luna, Wiese). 3B—AC (Easton). LOB—Garden City 5, Andover Central 2.

BLUE VALLEY WEST

Iziah Salinas absorbed the loss on the mound for the Buffs, pitching 2.2 innings, giving up 8 hits, 9 runs of which 7 were earned. He had 3 strikeouts and 3 walks. Caleb Metzen came in with two outs in the third and pitched the final 2.1 innings. He yielded 4 hits, 3 runs of which 2 were earned, struck out 1 and walked 0.

It took only the top of the first for West to strike, scoring four runs off 3 hits, a walk and two Garden City errors. The Jaguars added another run in the second and then tacked on a second four-run inning in the third to take command 9-0. They added another run in the fourth before the Buffs finally got on the scoreboard in their half of the fourth with their two runs.

Kaiden Luna and Jesse Baltazar had back-to-back singles, and then with one out, Kaden Whitehurst singled to load the bases. Koby Acker then followed with a 2-run single. Camden Munoz then drew a walk to load the bases with just the one out. But Ricardo Almanza struck out before Salinas hit into a fielder’s choice, with Munoz being forced out at second to end the Buffs’ best hopes for a big inning.

Two more runs by the Jags in the top of the fifth before the Buffs went down in 1-2-3 succession in their half of the fifth to end the game early.

The Buffs managed just 7 hits off winning pitcher Bryce Hanson, who struck out 4 and walked 1. No Buffs’ batters had more than 1 hit in the game.

The loss, combined with Friday’s loss, left the Buffs with a 9-6 season record. The Buffs will be in the final week of the regular season and travel to Hays on Tuesday, May 11, to face TMP-Marian in a doubleheader and then closes out the regular slate on Thursday, May 13, with a single game against Liberal. Sub-State pairings and site assignments will be made on Saturday, May 15.

Currently, the Buffs are sitting in the No. 7 seed of the 18 teams in the West Region of Kansas. There will be four sub-states of four teams each, with the Nos. 17 and 18 seeds not making the playoffs. The top four seeds will earn home fields for the sub-states.

Blue Valley-West 414 12 -- 12 12 0

Garden City 000 20 -- 2 7 3

BVW—Bryce Hanson (W) and Carsen Malan; GC—Iziah Salinas (L), Caleb Metzen (3) and Koby Acker. 2B—BVW (Jackson Lovich, Scott Riddle, Anthony DeMarino), GC (Camden Munoz). 3B—BVW (Joey Nichols). HR—BVW (Jackson Lovich). LOB—BVW 4, GC 5.