By Mike Pilosof
Pratt, KS-It was a long time coming for Becky Gundy's team, but she knew they had the talent to eventually get it done.
The Broncbusters ended a 33-game conference losing streak by taking game two of their doubleheader with Pratt 5-4 following a 4-3 game-one loss on the road Monday afternoon in a series that was moved to Pratt because of the weather.
"It's something we can definitely build some momentum off of," Gundy said. "This feels good."
It was Garden City's first conference win since April 28, 2015 when they beat Colby. The victory also snapped an 11-game skid overall.
"We did a better job in game two of finishing things," Gundy said.
That was not the case in the opener.
Garden City (12-24, 1-9) started well. Leish Nakagawa drilled her third home run of the season in the first: a two-run shot that gave the Broncbusters a 2-0 advantage.
Pratt (4-36, 2-10) answered back with a run in the bottom half when Lyndsey Loomis grounded out, scoring Karly Smith from third, which sliced the Broncbusters lead to 2-1.
"We kept grinding in both games," Gundy said. "That's what I like about our team. Things have not necessarily gone according to plan, but they kept fighting."
The Beavers eventually tied the game on Nakagawa's error in the second.
"Our biggest thing is learning how to finish," Gundy admitted.
That concept eluded the Broncbusters in the bottom of the seventh when Taylor Carey laced a one-out double to center. After Garden City pitcher Samantha Akers got Michaela Trevino to line out for the second out, Loomis smashed a 1-1 pitch into the power gap in right-center, knocking in Carey and giving the Beavers their fourth win of the season.
Akers dropped to 4-10 in the circle for the Broncbusters. She allowed four runs on nine hits in 6 2/3 innings. Her counterpart Bailey Howarah yielded just two earned runs on five hits to get the complete-game win.
In the second contest, the Broncbusters used their own late-game magic to secure their first victory since March 5.
With the game tied at 4 in the seventh, Martinez smoked a two-out, run-scoring double to left field. It was the first pitch the freshman saw.
"We had more life late in game two," Gundy said. "We finally came through."
Broncbuster pitcher Desiree Perea allowed a leadoff single in the bottom of the inning before retiring the next three to end the game.
"These girls just kept working," Gundy said. "At the end of the day, that's all you can ask."
After the Broncbusters struck first with Nakagawa's RBI single in the first, the Beavers responded with two in the bottom half, the second of those coming on Marisa Jonas's two-out single. Pratt stretched that lead to 3-1 when Loomis scored on a passed ball in the third.
But Garden City found their way back in the fourth. Kasie Smith scored on Bailey Bryson's error at first followed by Bailee Muxlow-Volk's sacrifice fly and Nicole Milford's RBI groundout, which gave the Broncbusters a 4-3 lead.
The advantage did not stick, and Carey singled home Makaila Martinez in the bottom of the fourth to knot the score again.
Perea got the win in relief for Garden City, going four innings and allowing only one run. She scattered six hits. Bailey Young took the loss for Pratt, allowing the game-winning run in the seventh. She went two innings and allowed three hits.
Next up: Garden City vs. Barton County-Wednesday, April 5-2 p.m. and 4 p.m.