By Tim Boulware
Garden City, KS-In a game where pitchers were grinding it out on short rest, it was the Broncbusters who looked like the fresher team. Garden City bashed out five homers over the two games, including a pair of grand slams to win 4-2 in game one and 25-2 in game two over Seward County Thursday afternoon at Williams Stadium.
In the first game, Garden City took a 1-0 lead in the first on back-to-back two-out doubles from Alex Nielsen and Jesse Gonzales to make it 1-0 off Seward County starter Jared Biddy (4-6). Biddy would settle down and retired the next nine he faced following Clint Allen's infield single in the first with two outs.
Ryder Yakel was also pitching on short rest for the Broncbusters and kept the shutout intact until the fourth when Nielsen's fielding error on a grounder to third scored the tying run in Addison Kaasch, and Montana Newell's single brought in Jacob Nielsen giving Seward their first lead at 2-1.
Rafael Villela scored the tying run for the Broncbusters in the fourth on a pair of passed balls charged to Saints catcher Law Greiner. The inning ended with the Broncbusters leaving two runners on, but at least Garden City had tied the game at 2-2.
In the seventh, after Nielsen drew a leadoff walk for Garden City and Gonzales grounded out to short, Allen came up and drilled a two-run homer to left on a 3-1 pitch. The walk-off blast gave Garden City a 4-2 win and was their first home victory in conference since defeating Barton on March 25.
"We struggled a little bit with Biddy, he's good," Garden City Coach Chris Finnegan said."He (Biddy) made one bad pitch and fortunate enough Clint (Allen) hit it."
The win also gave Garden their 30th victory of the year. Biddy took the loss, giving up four runs, three earned and striking out eight (six looking) while walking six. Nick Ulmer (1-3) earned the win in relief for Garden City going two innings and allowing one hit, while striking out one.
Game two saw power from the Broncbusters, and it started with designated hitter Connor Reynolds; who clubbed a two-run homer to left by the scoreboard putting himself in a tie for the top spot in the Jayhawk for homers. The blast off Seward County starter Ethan Earhart made it 2-0 Garden City.
After Seward tied the game off Ray Monje in the top of the third, the Broncbusters added three in the bottom half on a Ty Barclay's RBI double and two-run single from Reynolds for his third and fourth RBI of the second game.
Garden City blew it open with a 10-run fourth inning, Gonzales, Allen and Barclay all had RBI singles off reliever Jordan Pepper. Pepper and Jacob Nielsen both forced in runs with bases loaded walks and with the sacks full, Nielsen hit a grand slam to left putting Garden City up 15-2.
The next inning, Aeneas Roberson as part of a five-run fifth, also had a grand slam off Nick Johnston making it 20-2. It was the third time this year that Garden City scored 20 or more runs in game.
"Just the fact they didn't get antsy, they got a pitch to hit," Finnegan said referring to his team's bases-loaded approach. "Hit a ball hard and see what happens with it, and they were very fortunate the ball is going out of the yard (wind blowing out to left).
The two wins also wrapped up the fifth seed from the West for Garden City in next week's region VI tournament which means the Broncbusters would travel to the fourth seed from the east, most likely Neosho County. There's still an outside shot for Garden City to host, but the Broncbusters would have to sweep Seward Friday and have Colby lose all four in their series with Dodge City.
Allen also went yard on a solo homer for his second of the day and Nick Iossi worked the final five innings from the Garden City bullpen to capture the win 25-2.
Garden City (31-22, 16-14) wraps up the regular season on Friday afternoon with a doubleheader beginning at 1 with Seward County (17-34, 10-20). Pre-game is 12:45 on westernkansasnews.com and the KWKR stream.