Concordia, KS (westernkansasnews.com) Sometimes you have one of those days and sometimes you have one of those days! For Garden City rightfielder Brooks Benson it was a day he will remember. Benson had two homers, a first inning Grand Slam in game one and the game winning hit in game two as the Broncbuster (23-6, 9-3 conference) complete the four game sweep at Cloud County 17-4 and 9-7.
Game One Highlights
In the first game, Garden did not waste any time taking control of the game. Broncbuster batters were walked five times by Thunderbird starting pitcher Nick Wordekemper. The righty was coming off his best performance of the year earning a win in last week’s start against Dodge City going seven innings and allowing one run on seven hits. After Wordekemper settled in he did a nice job, but the damage was already done.
The Broncbusters had a three-run double from first baseman Kyle Lopez and after the sacks were loaded, Benson homered for the third time this year a grand slam that capped off scoring in a nine run first inning. Patrick Mixon added his own solo shot off Wordekemper in the second and Sean Kennedy had a three run blast off reliever Aaron Starnes in the sixth.
Tyler Franek went the distance for Garden allowing four runs, three earned and nine hits in his six innings of work. Garden reached the six inning run rule with the 13 run win, 17-4.
Game Two Highlights
The second game had an unusual theme for the Broncbusters in having to come back from behind. Cloud catcher Emillio Escamilla hit his own Grand Slam off Brendan Peitsmeyer who was looking to improve his mark to 7-0. The blast gave the Thunderbirds (3-22, 1-11) their first lead of the series.
Garden City came back with a four run fourth inning. A bases loaded walk, Sac-Fly and double steal with Alex Nielson taking second and C.J. Krainock sliding home on the attempted throw tied the game at four. Lopez added a RBI single to give the Broncbusters a 5-4 lead greeting Thunderbird reliever Jared Winter after he took over for lefty starter Brandon Mitchell.
Garden tacked on another run when Benson hit his second homer of the day and fourth of the year in the sixth off Winter. All this to set the stage for the dramatics of the late innings.
In the seventh, Garden City starter Brendan Peitsmeyer encountered some troubled when he allowed three consecutive singles including a RBI base hit from Cloud County Centerfiedler Jake Wells to pull to within 6-5. With the tying run at third Peitsmeyer convinced Coach Chris Finnegan to face one more batter. The move was rewarded when Peitsmeyer induced a 6-4-3 double play from the bat of Thunderbird thirdbaseman Bryce Lievens.
The Broncbusters had another jam in the eighth and this time they could not get out of it without squandering the lead. Garden City reliever Ryan Blackwood gave up back to back singles by Alexion Herrera and Jacob Grady to begin the inning. Stephen Pagendarm came on in relief to strikeout Gabriel Jacobo, but was victimizied by an error on a slow rolling grounder to shortstop Reid Effrien allowing the tying run to score 6-6. With Grady at third Cloud shortstop Luis Landetta laid down a safety squeeze to the right side in pushing across the go ahead run 7-6.
Garden had the first two batters retired in order by Cloud reliever Cole Otto to begin the top of the ninth. C.J. Krainock reached on a throwing error from Lievens at third. Krainock stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by T-bird catcher Garrett Graveline. Nielsen followed up with a single to tie the game at 7-7. After Otto walked Aeneas Roberson Benson capped off his magical day with a two run double to right center in giving Garden a 9-7.
Ray Monje survived a wild bottom of the ninth inning to secure his fourth save of the year. Monje allowed back-to-back basehits and a walk to Grady in loading the bases before getting Nelson to hit into a 6-4 fielders choice to end the game.
Post-game Garden City Coach Chris Finnegan
Garden City outscored Cloud County over the four game weekend series 50-15. The Thunderbirds allowed 45 walks while Garden issued just three. Garden City has also taken 11 of the 12 games played between the two teams over the last three years and are now 7-1 over their first two weekend series in league play.
The Broncbusters play at Lamar Wednesday and then will return home for a weekend series beginning Friday against Butler. The Grizzlies are off to a slow start in conference at 1-7. Pre-game show for Friday’s doubleheader begins at 2:45 on ESPN 99.9 and westernkansasnews.com.