Final Highlights: GCCC vs. Otero
Garden City, Kan (westernkansasnews.com)-Before Wednesday’s doubleheader, Buster skipper Chris Finnegan sat calmly in his office. He spoke firmly when he said that Otero consistently comes into Garden City and hammers his team. Unfortunately by night’s end, the ninth-year coach’s premonition rang true.
Otero used 10 different pitchers and overcame deficits in both games to sweep Garden City 5-3 and 8-6 at Williams Stadium.
In the first game, the Rattlers (12-9) struck first in the second inning. Blake Johnson, who was hit by a pitch to start the frame, trotted home a few minutes later when Juan Mendoza slapped a single to left field-giving Otero a 1-0 lead.
Garden City grabbed the lead with two runs in the fourth; the go-ahead score coming on a wild pitch that plated Zach Barton. In fact two of the three runs scored by the Busters came on errant throws by one of the four hurlers used by Rattlers Head Coach Chris Carillo.
The lead would stick until the fourth When Blake Stoehr stroked a two-out, two-run double to the gap in right-center scoring Kevin Barnes and Mendoza.
The Rattlers would tack on another run in the fifth on Barnes run-scoring single. Then added an insurance tally in the seventh with Cordova’s line-drive double that scored Marcus Gilmore.
Trailing 5-2 in the seventh, the Busters (12-9) mounted their own rally. Francisco Alvarez, who reached based on an infield single, came around to score on a Jarrett Bott wild pitch. But with the winning run at the plate, Barton bounced into a game-ending double play.
The second game saw Otero once again jump out to an early lead. This time the damage was done in the top of the first. The first batter of the game Landon Merka was hit by a pitch. After swiping second, Merka took third on a wild pitch thrown by Bradley Spires. The sophomore right-hander, who only lasted an inning, allowed three runs on only one hit, but tossed two wild pitches.
After a Spires error that allowed Phillip Cruz to reach, Blake Johnson lifted a sacrifice fly to left-bringing Merka around. Marcus Gilmore followed with an RBI single, and then Cruz came across the plate on another wild pitch by Spires.
Brandon Zipper’s sac fly in the second got Garden City on the board. In the third-Francisco Alvarez led off with a line-drive triple. Tyler Tucker’s RBI ground out pulled the Busters within 3-2. Jaxon Moore followed with a walk; Cale Dineen popped out; Tyler Allitz walked and Kadin Hydrick singled to load the bases for Nolan Barrientos. The sophomore delivered with a two-out, two-run single to put Garden City in front 4-3.
The Busters would expand the lead in the fourth when Dineen, who was just 4-for-his-last 18 entering Wednesday’s twin bill, looped a single into center field off of reliever Neiko Martinez. Alvarez, who led off the inning with an infield single, trotted home to give Garden City a 5-3 advantage.
That lead would evaporate in the Otero fifth. After back-to-back singles chased Buster reliever Austin Aspergren after just a third of an inning, Johnson ripped a one-out double off of Marcus McKinney that scored Blake Stoehr and Cruz. Two batters later, Kevin Barnes smoked a run-scoring triple-plating Johnson to give the Rattlers a 6-5 edge.
Garden City drew even when Brandon Zipper drew a bases loaded walk in the bottom of the fifth. Then the stalemate and extra innings.
The game stayed deadlocked until the top of the ninth, when pinch-hitter James Cordova smashed a two-out, two-run double that got passed Zipper and center fielder Tyler Tucker-giving the Rattlers an 8-6 lead.
Garden City went in order in their half of the ninth.
Notes: In the two-game series, the two teams used a combined 21 pitchers…Otero’s two wins over Garden City were only their third in the series since 2008