By Mike Pilosof
Garden City, KS-The Broncbusters finally salvaged a game in their four-game set with Indian Hills, but it was definitely a mixed bag for Chris Finnegan's team.
Conner Reynolds blasted two more homers, and Garden City managed to split their final two games with the Falcons, taking the finale 12-6 and losing game three 21-11 Sunday afternoon at Williams Stadium.
The first game was somewhat of a nightmare for the Broncbusters.
Garden City (12-7) appeared to be in cruise control after Reynolds doubled and scored in the first when Alex Nielsen drove him in on a one-out single. Two batters later, Allen doubled home Nielson for a 2-0 lead.
The Broncbusters added to their cushion in the fourth. Jesse Gonzales hit a leadoff single. Ty Lightley advanced him to second with a sacrifice bunt before Alex Eskridge hit an RBI single to push the lead to 3-0. With runners at first and third, Nielsen singled home two, and the Broncbusters had a 5-0 advantage.
Everything was going right, including Connor Burns, who allowed just three hits through the first five innings. But the sixth is one that he and the Broncbusters would love to forget.
After Burns got Marcus Gregson to strike out to begin the frame, things went south in a hurry. Garden City allowed seven straight singles. In fact, 12 straight Indian Hills (3-1) batters reached base before reliever Mitchell Savine finally recorded an out off of Zachary Fascia's sacrifice fly that scored Ryan Humeniuk from third. The Falcons added another run on a passed ball before Savine got Lane Harvey to pop out to the catcher to the end the inning. In all, Indian Hills scored 10 runs on nine hits, including Dillon Nelson's two-run double that gave the Falcons a 10-5 edge.
Indian Hills was not finished, one-upping themselves in the seventh. Justin King led off with a solo homer off Michael Sweetman, Will Zimmerman tripled and scored on Humeniuk's RBI single who eventually came around himself when Luis Gimenez bounced into a fielder's choice. After Sweetman loaded the bases with a five-pitch walk to Fascia, Rhinesmith roped a two-run double to left. King came up again and singled home Fascia. Then with the bases loaded once more, Humeniuk smoked a two-run double followed by Nelson's RBI groundout that made it 21-5.
The Broncbusters made it respectable in the bottom half. Darian Burns singled home Billy Clark, before three straight walks issued by Brett Stenger allowed a run to score. Reynolds came up and blasted a three-run bomb to right-center to make it 21-11. But the miracle rally ended when Neilson stuck out swinging.
Michael Dziurgot got the loss in relief, allowing three runs on two hits while not recording an out. Jacob Thiessen picked up the win for Indian Hills, going five innings and allowing three earned runs on eight hits.
In the series finale, the Broncbusters once again, got off to a good start.
Garden City spotted starter Ryder Yakel a three-run cushion right off the bat. Two walks issued by Falcons hurler DJ Depiero put runners at first and third for Billy Clark, who singled home Roberson and Nielson to make it 2-0. Clark eventually crossed on an error by catcher Max Sheldon to put Garden City up 3-0.
They made it 5-0 in the second when Nielsen singled home two and added another run in the third on Clark's solo shot.
That lead ballooned to 8-0 in the fourth when Reynolds drilled a solo home run and Barclay singled home Nielsen and Allen.
Indian Hills got a run back in the sixth when Rhinesmith tripled and scored on Sheldon's sacrifice fly, then added one more in the seventh when Christian Pena doubled and came around when Noah Renaud knocked him in with a single.
Things got interesting in the top of the eighth when the Falcons plated two more to cut the lead in half 8-4. But Allen's two-run double in the bottom of the eighth finally put the game away, and snapped the Broncbusters four-game losing streak.
Yakel improved to 2-0 with a dominating, seven-hit performance where he allowed only one run. Depiero took the loss, allowing three earned runs.
Next up: Garden City at Colby-Saturday, Mar. 4-12:45 p.m. pregame; 1 p.m. first pitch on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app