Wichita, KS-Garden City’s state tournament drought stands at 22 years and counting. So what’s one more day, right?
Cooper Thayer shook off a rocky start to earn his fifth win of the season while Raymond Urrutia knocked in two runs as the Buffalos came back from an early 2-0 deficit to beat Haysville Campus 7-4 in the 6A regional semifinals at Westside Athletic Field.
“We’ve been more aggressive this season,” Head Coach Bill Wilson said about his team’s offensive improvement. “That’s showed all season long.”
It took a little while for that offense to get rolling. In the meantime, the Colts seized the early lead. Cole Martins RBI groundout and Cayden Ysidro’s run-scoring double down the right-field line gave Haysville Campus a 2-0 advantage in the top of the first.
After going down in order in the first, Garden City (12-9, 5-3) found their groove in the second. Griff Brunson doubled and scored on Urrutia’s single back up the middle to cut the deficit to one.
“We didn’t show them a lot the first time through the order,” Wilson admitted.
After Thayer’s bumpy start, he turned on the afterburners, mowing down 12 straight batters before Kreighton Rogers broke the streak with a two-out single in the fifth. The sophomore, who joined the varsity late last season, allowed four runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 before giving way to Carson Scheeter, who earned his third save of the season in relief.
“Cooper has been really good this season,” Wilson said.”
While Thayer stabilized the defense, Wilson’s offense erupted in the third. Aric Rowland reached after a one-out error on third basemen Cole Martins. David Arteaga followed with a single that put runners at the corners before Brunson’s fielder’s choice allowed Rowland to score from third. Urrutia and Kris Henderson added RBI singles to stretch the lead to 5-2. The rally though ended when Henderson was gunned down at second.
The Buffaloes added two more runs in the fifth. Brunson doubled and scored again on Easton Lager’s single. Henderson, who knocked a base hit earlier in the frame, eventually stole second; went to third on Lager’s single before coming home after a balk was called on relief pitcher Jackson Hartley.
Haysville Campus got a couple of runs back in the top of the sixth. Pinch hitter Austin Warkins sac fly and Kyler McMullin’s run-scoring single made it 7-4. In the seventh, the Colts brought the tying runs to the plate two separate times, and on both occasions Scheeter got a force out at second and induced a fly ball off the bat of Hartley to end the game.
“There’s still one more step to go,” Wilson said.
Sophomore Tanner Leslie, who started strong in the first, took the loss on the bump, allowing six earned runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings. Hartley tossed 1 1/3 innings of relief and struck out three while allowing only one hit—an Arteaga single in the seventh.
Next up: Garden City vs. Wichita West-Saturday, May 20-12:45 p.m. pregame; 1 p.m. first pitch on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app