January 26, 2022

Walk-off win; Seward takes three of four

Final Highlights: GCCC vs. Seward County

Liberal, Kan (westernkansasnews.com)-Hitless in his first six at bats Monday afternoon, Seward County shortstop Jake Fuller had one last chance to make a first impression. He did that and then some-bringing true meaning to the phrase better late than never.

With one out and the Saints trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh, Fuller took a 3-2 pitch from reliever Josh Thomas and blazed a rocket over the left-field wall; his first collegiate home run. Two batters later, Jordan Leinweber’s RBI single down the right-field line gave Seward County a walk-off, 6-5 win over Garden City in the series finale at Brent Gould Field. 

“Every year we play close games with them,” Garden City Head Coach Chris Finnegan said afterwards. “I don’t know what it is, but that’s always how it plays out.”

And on a day where the winds expected to be a factor, they really weren’t. 

After winning game three 9-5 in extra innings, thanks to a four run eighth inning, the Busters started where they left off in the early afternoon. Two Seward County miscues in the top of the second: An error by catcher Mason Marshall, who fired a ball into center field trying to nail down a baserunner, and a wild pitch thrown by starter Keenan Hall (1-3) plated two runs for the Busters (13-12, 6-6). 

Seward County (17-11, 8-4) tied the game in the bottom half. Leinweber, who finished 3-of-4 at the dish, with a team-high two RBIs in game four, roped a single to right-center field. Kevin Connolly followed with a double and Mason Marshall hit a sacrifice fly-making it 2-1. Brandon Rix’s RBI ground out scored Connolly from third evening the score 2-2. 

“I’m proud of the guys the way we fought,” Finnegan said. “This series was great for both teams.”

And spectators got their money’s worth in the finale. Three round trippers, including Rocky Desantis’s solo blast in the third that gave Garden City a 3-2 advantage. An inning later it was Tyler Allitz drilling a shot over the wall in left, and the Busters had a 4-2 edge. 

But the Saints rallied back in the fifth, loading the bases with only one out. Brent Williams then bounced into a fielder’s choice-scoring Fuller from third and cutting the lead to 4-3. That was followed up by a Leinweber RBI single that knotted the game 4-4. 

Garden City thought they had grabbed the lead for good in the seventh when Jaxon Mohr broke out of a 3-for-22 slump with a two-out, run-scoring single. 

But Seward County, who committed five costly errors in game four, silenced all doubters with a dramatic final frame. Fuller’s long ball tied it; Brent Williams doubled followed by Leinweber’s game-winning hit.

“We grew up in this series,” Finnegan said. “We can take a lot from the three games we lost these two days.”

Garden City won game three coming from behind. After spotting the Saints a 2-0 lead after three, the Busters put together two of their most productive innings of the season. A two-run fourth-fueled by a Francisco Alvarez RBI single and a sacrifice fly by Kadin Hydrick tied the game 2-2. 

In the fifth, the Busters used a two-out walk; a Desantis single and a bunt single by Nolan Barrientos to grab the lead. Then Dineen slapped an RBI single to right-center-scoring Desantis from second. The red-shirt freshman then stole second allowing Barrientos to score the third run of the inning-putting Garden City up 5-2. 

After the Saints tied it with a run in the fifth and two in the sixth, it was Garden City’s turn to respond in extra innings. A four-run eighth that saw Finnegan’s squad send 10 men to the plate and chase two Seward County hurlers, turned out to be the difference. Allitz stroked an RBI single. Hydrick scored on a error by first baseman Reed Thompson. Allitz scored on another error and Desantis hit a sac fly. 

“I feel really good about this team moving forward,” Finnegan said. “We definitely learned something. 

Next up: Garden City at Clarendon, TX-Wednesday at 1 p.m. (No broadcast); Next broadcast vs. Colby-Saturday, March 22-12:45 p.m. dugout show ONLINE ONLY at westernkansasnews.com/gccc-sports/streaming (Tim Boulware)

Box Scores: game 3 gccc vs. seward box | game 4 gccc vs. seward box

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