By Mike Pilosof
Garden City, KS-Talk about two nail biters.
The Broncbusters split their first two conference games of the season with Northwest Tech, losing a pitcher's duel 1-0 in game one before taking game two on a walk-off error, 5-4.
"I thought our kids did a nice job of bouncing back in the second game," Head Coach Becky Gundy said.
The opener was definitely there for the taking.
Samantha Akers was absolutely fantastic, allowing two hits: a Bre Hillin single in the second, and a leadoff base hit by Kaitlynn Raile in the sixth. Other than that, the sophomore had Northwest Tech off balance all day, striking out eight batters while only throwing 75 pitches.
"I thought Sam did a great job," Gundy said. "We had two errors that eventually cost us a run."
The Broncbusters collected their first hit of the day in the fourth when Alyssa Dilly laid down a perfect drag bunt. But Ariel Denney popped out to second, and Taylore Hartman struck out swinging to retire the side. Garden City had another chance in the fifth when Erica Vessels smoked a one-out single to center. But as was the case in the fourth, the Broncbusters squandered a chance to score when Angel Jimenez popped out in foul territory and Bailey Brawner grounded out to end the inning.
"It was definitely a pitcher's duel," Gundy said.
The lone run scored came across in the sixth. With two outs, Marlena Rubio hit a ground ball that Denney misplayed at second base, allowing Raile, who led off the inning with a single, to score from third to give Northwest Tech a 1-0 lead.
Garden City got a runner on in the sixth when Mackenzie Collins was hit by a pitch. But two ground outs and a fly out kept the Broncbusters off the board. Garden City then went down in order in the seventh.
Shae Muggrudge picked up the win, allowing just two hits while striking out eight in seven innings.
In game two, Akers surrendered a run in the first when Rubio hit a sacrifice fly to put the Mavericks up 1-0.
Garden City responded in the second when Jimenez and Hannah Adams came across on an error by Alexis Perez at short to put the Broncbusters up 2-1. That lead however, was short lived after Rubio smashed an RBI double in the third to knot the game at 2.
"I thought our hitters did a better job in the second game of zeroing in on what we wanted to do," Gundy said.
Garden City went in front the next inning thanks to Vessels, whose run-scoring single made it 3-2 Garden City.
After Northwest Tech tied it in the fifth, the Broncbusters responded in the bottom of the frame with Jimenez's RBI single that gave Garden City a 4-3 edge.
The score stayed that way until the seventh when Rubio ripped an RBI double to tie the contest again.
"We ultimately had an opportunity to get Micaela (Martinez) back in the game," Gundy said. "Erica got herself on with a line drive up the middle, and then Micaela was able to move her over."
After Vessels singled with one out, Martinez followed with a scorching single to right. Vessels went first to third before sprinting home when right fielder Sirena Rosalez committed a costly error, ending the game.
Denney got the win in relief, allowing one run on two hits in two innings of relief. Akers started the game and pitched two innings, striking out three and allowing one run.
Muggrudge took the loss, giving up two runs on seven hits in relief.
Next up: Garden City at Colby, Wednesday, March. 7-2 p.m. and 4 p.m.