May 26, 2024

Garden Splits Last Two Games with Cloud; Offense Shows Power Late

Garden City, KS ( The wind was howling out to leftfield during Sunday’s doubleheader between Garden City and Cloud County, but until the second game it was difficult to tell it was a hitters day.

Cloud limited Garden City to just three hits in the first game and won 5-2.  Garden took the second game 15-8 thanks to a Grand Slam in the eighth inning from shortstop Ty Lightley that nick the foul pole in left for his first collegiate home run.

Ryder Yakel (3-1) made the start for Garden City (17-10,5-3) in game one and retired the first six batters he faced until allowing Kolton Meyer’s leadoff homer to left in the third which gave Cloud County (10-13, 1-7) a 1-0 lead.  For Meyer it was his fifth homer of the year which leads the team.

Ryan Krolikowski added a two out RBI single to rightcenter in the fourth giving Cloud a 2-0 lead. 

Garden cut the Cloud lead in half scoring an unearned run in the fourth on Tuckler Catlett’s wild throw to first trying to turn a 4-6-3 double play resulting in Alex Nielsen to score. 

Nielsen had a chance to give the Broncbusters their first lead of the afternoon in the fifth when he lined reliever Krolikowski’s pitcher to rightfield where it was caught by Jacob Grady forcing Garden to leave the bases loaded.

One inning later, Tauren Langley made the Broncbusters pay by homering to left over the scoreboard off Garden City reliever Mitchell Savine and that was enough breathing room to give Cloud their first conference win and the second win over Garden in 11 games. Both teams added a run in their final at bats to give Cloud a 5-2. 

The win meant the Thunderbirds eclipse their total number of win from last year when they finished 9-44.  First year head coach and former Garden City Community College assistant Eric Gilliland already had his team reach double figures in wins for the year not even halfway through the following season.

Game two saw much more fire power and it started when Garden City had a three homer third inning off Thunderbirds starter Patrick Rosborough.  Jesse Gonzales scorched his second homer of the weekend and third of the year to rightcenter tying up the game at one. Connor Reynolds added a two run blast to center in giving Garden City their first lead at 3-1.  The homer was his first since Indian Hills on February 26 and gave him 10 for the season matching what he did all last year.  Alex Nielsen then went back-t0-back on a solo homer to give Garden a 4-1 lead.

“That inning was good to see,” said GCCC Head Coach Chris Finnegan, “We struggled game one offensively and realistic we struggled today offensively.”

Lefty Kendrick Catron pitched well, but was dented for a three run homer by Langley in the sixth inning to make it 5-4 Garden City.  For Langley it was his second homer of the day and fifth of the season.

Second baseman Alex Eskridge would then get into the act for Garden.  Saturday he had a two run double to help the Broncbusters offensive attack, he would add another two run double in the sixth off Thunderbirds reliever John Stiger to make it 7-4 for Garden.  One inning later he pasted a two run single to center as part of a three run inning to give Garden City a 10-6 lead.

Finnegan said, “He (Eskridge) played to his strengths, he didn’t try to do too much.  He fouled some pitches off with two strikes and hit a mistake.  Those were huge.”

That set the stage for Lightley’s Grand Slam off Cloud reliever Koby Spicer for the righthanded pitcher’s second homer he had given up over the weekend.  The drive off the base of the pole in left gave Garden City a 15-8 lead and wrapped up a four homer second game for the Broncbusters.

Catron evened his record at 2-2 giving up four runs, three earned and three hits while striking out six and walking just one.  The loss went to Rosborough who served up the four runs all on homers and three hits in three innings.  His record dropped to 1-3.

Garden City is back on the road next week when they visit Butler.  The Grizzlies are off to a 2-6 start in conference after losing three of four this weekend at first place Dodge City.