October 5, 2022

Walk-off style: Rodriguez keeps Elite perfect (Audio)


Garden City, Kan (westernkansasnews.com)-Garden City manager Lyle Befort sprinted from his spot at third base to the right-field line. The giddy veteran coach beat his players to the punch. 

“I raced right by you,” Befort said repeatedly to catcher Thomas Solorio. “That’s how it’s done.”

Why was Befort on cloud nine and clocking a record-breaking 40 time? For one, he had just watched Isaiah Rodriguez smoke a game-winning, two-run single to beat Hugoton 7-6 and a complete a two-game sweep at Clint Lightner Stadium Wednesday night; Second and more impressive: the Elite improved to 11-0. 

“I knew coming into this season that no matter how much our pitchers struggled, we would have a great lineup to hit,” Rodriguez said afterwards. “This feels amazing.”

His coach had been stressing two-out hits all season long. But on this night, as crazy as it sounds, it was the lack thereof that pushed the Elite over the top. 

Trailing 6-5 in the sixth of game two, Garden City had runners at second and third with nobody out. But Derek Cook popped out to first while Mario Montoya and Addison DeHerrerra struck out looking to end the threat. 

“It was very frustrating,” Rodriguez said. “We had three people try; I mean you never want to see your team pop up to an infielder. But it’s baseball and it happens. I know I have a great team behind me.”

Rodriguez condoled his team especially DeHerrerra as he walked back to the third-base dugout with his head down after striking out on three pitches. Redemption was just around the corner. 

After allowing a lead-off walk in the top of the seventh, Solorio, pitching in relief of starter Daniel Flores, found the strike zone on nine out of his next 11 pitches. The end result: three straight Ks to retire the side-keeping it a one-run game. 

With their rally caps on, Davin Acker began the bottom half with a four-pitch walk. Jacob Rivas and Solorio followed up with singles to load the bases. That set the stage for Rodriguez. 

Down 1-2 in the count, Rodriguez looked uncomfortable on his next swing, fouling it straight back behind home plate. 

“I don’t know what I was thinking at that point,” Rodriguez said. “I had tunnel vision so all I saw was the pitcher.”

That had to be the case because on the next pitch, Rodriguez shortened up his swing and laced the game-winning single to straight-away center. 

“He threw one right down the middle, and I had a level swing,” Rodriguez added. “There was no way I was popping it up.”

As Rodriguez sprinted around first, Rivas and Solorio were headed for home. The game and the perfect season remained intact. 

Flores had mixed results on the hill-allowing six runs on nine hits while walking three in 5.2 innings. 

In complete contrast, (Mario) Montoya was dominant in the opener-throwing a workmanlike 85 pitches in a 10-2 run-rule victory. 

The Elite scored in every inning but the second including a four-run fifth to end it. 

Solorio was 1-for-3 with three RBIs. Rivas and pinch-hitter Edgar Montoya provided multi-hit games. 

Next up: Pueblo Tournament-Friday, June 20-Garden City vs. Pueblo West 5 p.m.

Box Scores: gcelite_hugoton game 1 | gcelite_hugoton game 2

Isaiah Rodriguez postgame comments

Other Scores

Woodward 10, Dodge City 3

Dodge City 10, Woodward 0

NBC

Liberal 11, Hays 10 (Final/12 innings)