Dodge City, KS-After a day off for rainy weather Saturday, the series between Garden City and Dodge City Community College's continued on Sunday, and the Broncbuster bats were in full swing.
Garden City could not hold on to a 5-3 lead in the sixth inning of game two and the result was a split of the two games with the Broncbusters winning the first contest 14-0 and losing 8-7 in game two. Dodge City took three out of four in the series to keep a share of first place in the Jayhawk West. The three wins for Dodge City were by a combined four runs.
"I told our guys after the game, we gave them everything we could, Garden City Head Coach Chris Finnegan said. "There's a reason they're (Dodge City) the number-one team in our conference on the west side. They're really good. We were one pitch away."
The first game started out well for the Broncbusters and kept building from there. It began when Connor Reynolds clubbed his team leading 13th homer of the year off Conquistadors right hander Joe Buckendorf (3-3). The blast, which hung up down the line in right before going over the wall, gave Garden City an early 1-0 lead.
Garden City maintained their 1-0 lead until the fifth when they scored four more. Reynolds added a double off the wall in left-center plating shortstop Ty Lightley. Alex Nielsen followed with an RBI single, and Jesse Gonzales followed with a two-run single knocking Buckendor.
All this offense was enough for Ryder Yakel (4-2). The freshman survived a three-single first inning from the Conquistadors and then would allow just one hit the rest of the game. For Yakel, it was his first win since March 5 at Colby and his third complete game of the season sparking the Broncbusters first shutout of the year.
If possessing a 5-0 lead heading into the sixth was not enough, Garden City blew the doors wide open with a nine-run sixth inning, helped by four hit batters from Dodge City reliever Jeremy Hidalgo. As part of the inning, Garden City catcher Ty Barclay singled in two, Rafael Villela added a run-scoring single and Billy Clark knocked in a run with a double.
Yakel took care of business in the bottom of the sixth to seal up a run-rule shortened 14-0 win. For Dodge City, it was only their second loss at home this season dropping their mark at Cavalier Field to 9-1.
In game two, Dodge City turned the tables on Garden City starting pitcher Kendrick Catron by striking first.
Dauson Tate launched his eighth homer of the year to the left of the scoreboard in left field, giving Dodge (22-9-1, 12-4) a 2-0 lead.
Brayden Cook laced an RBI single to right in the second to push the Conquistadors lead to 3-0. Then Catron settled down and did not encounter any more problems until the sixth. His offense would help give their starting pitcher the lead when Garden City scored four runs all with two outs in the third inning.
Cole Brandon, an honorable mention all-conference pitcher for Dodge City, shutout Garden City last season in a 6-0 win. This year the Broncbusters finally figured him out.
After Ty Lightley bounced into a 6-4-3 double play emptying the bases with two outs, the next six batters reached base consecutively. After three straight singles loaded the bases, Alex Nielsen drew a bases loaded walk as Dodge City's lead slipped to 3-1. Jesse Gonzales then drove in two runs with a single and Ty Barclay continued his hot hitting with a tie-breaking single to left center giving the Broncbusters their first lead of game two 4-3.
Garden City added an insurance run in the sixth inning on second baseman's Alex Eskridge's RBI double bringing in Villela and stretching the Garden City lead to 5-3.
Catron who had been so solid through five innings had a little trouble closing out the sixth and it cost him his opportunity for a win.
Isaak Snyder's two-out walk brought up Conquistadors shortstop Cole Bergdall, who promptly homered just inside the pole down the left field line for his second homer of the year. The two-run blast tied the game at 5-5 and knocked Catron from the game.
Dillan Feuerstein took over in relief to get the final out of the sixth, but then in the seventh with two on and two out after striking out right fielder Jon Coss, Jake Pederson, a guy who had one hit in 12 at-bats all weekend, gave Dodge the lead when his single to right field that brought in Dauson Tate. Robert Perea followed with another run-scoring single off left reliever Mitchell Savine sending home Talon Schaller.
Dodge City added another insurance run in the eighth after Ray Monje walked the first two he faced before Brayden Cook's sac bunt set the stage for Tate's sac-fly to center in giving the Conquistadors a three-run lead for their closer Dalton Harvey.
Harvey, who saved all three wins for Dodge City during the weekend, had a rough outing in game two when he struck out Aeneas Roberson with two on Friday in preserving Dodge City's 3-2 win.
Sunday, Harvey allowed two runs on Alex Neilsen's single to right field with two outs. Nielsen, seeing Eric Reid's throw to home, thought he could make it into scoring position. But Dodge City catcher Robert Perea had other ideas in throwing the ball to second and Bergdall laid on the tag for the final out, preventing Jesse Gonzales from taking his final swing on the day.
"He (Nielsen) did what he was taught to do," Finnegan said. "When they see the ball up through the cutoff guy to take the extra bag. The issue you have is Jesse Gonzales is up next. You have your four- hole hitter up next with a chance to extend the inning."
The loss dropped Garden City to 23-17, 11-9 in conference as they remain three games behind both Hutchinson and Dodge City heading into their conference bye week.
Garden City plays road games this Wednesday at Otero and next Wednesday April 12 at Frank Phillips before returning home to host Hutchinson Friday, April 14 and Saturday, April 14.