Derby, KS (westernkanasnews.com) The Garden City High School Baseball team (8-13) was full of surprises in Wednesday’s regional semi game against Wichita Northwest (11-10) at Derby Middle School, but in the end the Buffaloes fell 6-5 ending their season.
The first surprise even caught the player involved off guard. Starting pitcher Jesse Ruiz made his first varsity appearance after spending the season on Junior Varsity. Ruiz only made it through the second inning and gave up all three runs in the second including a two run single from Grizzlies ninth spot batter Dylan Gates. Mastering his control was a problem for Ruiz, he walked two batters in each inning on the mound.
Garden City offense staged a couple of surprises of their own. In the fourth, Buffaloes third baseman Griffin Brunson hit a smash grounder that leaped over Northwest third baseman Jordan Dingman. Talked about a surprise. Dingman did not even move an inch as the ball landed in left field scoring the first two Garden City runs making it a 3-2 lead for North.
The Buffaloes just could never tie the game. In the fifth the Buffaloes had a pair of base runners tagged out by North. One involved a comeback grounder to the pitcher from Mario Montoya that resulted in a 1-25 rundown tag out of Mitch Hernandez and the other was Marcus Zapata being picked off by Grizzlies starting pitcher Wil Clark to end the inning.
Daniel Flores came on in relief and pitched well in the third and fourth, his afternoon on the mound would end in the fifth. Flores walked Jordan Dingman and allowed a single to Jared Gates. Daven Acker then came on in relief and struck out Josh Jones, hit catcher Scott Steinbeck with a pitch and served up a wild pitch to make it 4-2 Grizzlies. Brendon Johnson knocked in the other run with his bloop double to center that fell in front of the hard charging Mitch Hernandez.
Garden City would not wilt away. Trailing 5-2 in the sixth they scored two unearned runs on a fly ball that sailed over the head of Landon Whitmore in deep left as he lost the ball in the sun. Both Jacob Rivas and Griffin Brunson scored. The batter Martin Terraras stopped at third and attempted to score on catcher Scott Steinbeck’s overthrow to left, but was gunned down at home with the return throw by shortstop Jared Gates.
Wichita added an insurance run off Acker and the Buffaloes in the sixth. After getting the first out, the next four batters hit safely including Jordan Dingman’s RBI triple to make it 6-4. Dingman was then surprised when Acker’s pickoff throw to third cut him down diving back. NW Head Coach Chris Lambert argued with the base umpire, but the call stood. Lambert really felt sick when the next two batters Jared Gates and Josh Jones added singles. Without the pickoff Northwest would take a 7-4 lead into the ninth. Turned out the only run they scored in the sixth was all they would need.
Garden City made one last attempt to keep their season alive. Mitch Hernandez hit a little flare pop up that was lost in the high sun by first baseman Josh Jones for an error. Hernandez advanced to second on Thomas Solorio’s groundout and after a steal of third scored on Marcus Zapata’s Sac-Fly to center. Mario Montoya would try to reach with two outs, but on a booted ball by shortstop Jared Gates he recovered to throw a little skipping ball to first baseman Josh Jones who dove on the ground and kept hold of the bag with his right foot on a bang-bang play with Montoya.
With the 6-5 loss to Northwest, Garden City ended the season (8-13) while Wichita Northwest advanced to play top seeded Derby in the regional final.