After a going all of 2016 without a conference win, the Red Demons split with Garden City to break the streak.
After suffering through an entire season of nothing but conference losses in 2016, the Dodge City High School baseball team finally broke through in game two of their doubleheader, beating rival Garden City 13-3 in six innings after falling 1-8 in game one on Saturday.
“We’ve lost 9 in-a-row and then we finally come back and get one,” head baseball coach Zach Shipley said. “It’s nice to break the ice and get one.”
The Red Demons are now 7-3 on the season and 1-2 in WAC play.
Dodge City got started behind the eight ball in game one falling behind by seven runs before the fourth inning even started. Garden City’s starter, Chris Thayer, was more than solid, going the distance while giving up just one run on five hits.
“He came out and threw strikes,” Shipley said. “That’s half of the battle as a pitcher. He comes out and fills it up and fills it up and fills it up which is exactly what he’s supposed to do. Tip of the cap to him.”
But while Shipley gave Buffalo’s and Thayer all the credit for how they were able to shut Dodge City down in game one, he said that his team came in unprepared mentally to compete.
“It started before the game even got going,” Shipley said. “We had a couple of kids show up late, we had bad work in the cages, we came out flat because we didn’t prepare at all. We got selfish as a team and it carried over right into the game.”
Game two was a much different story for the Demons as senior Rylen Allen singled on a pop fly that got lost in the wind to score fellow seniors Luke Royle and Lucas Hefner to grab a 2-0 advantage.
Dodge City really broke the game wide open in the second where they scored six runs starting with back-to-back walks and a passed ball on a single by junior Derick Blansett to score a run, putting runners on the corners with no outs.
Blansett had a huge day both offensively and defensively, leading his team with four hits and four RBIs while making several athletic outs in the outfield.
“That kid is such a pest,” Shipley said. “He’s the guy you love having on your team and hate playing against. He tries and works so hard to do things right. He’s so much fun to watch.”
After grabbing an out, Garden City walked another two batters back-to-back which both scored a run and loaded the bases. Senior Ryan Armstrong followed that by doubling to left field, clearing the bases and pushing the lead to 7-0. A pop fly single by sophomore Adrian Mendoza scored another run to bring the inning run total to six and the game score to 8-0.
“The first two innings are so big,” Shipley said. “It’s easier to play relaxed when you get a few runs early on.”
From there on, Dodge was in control. Sophomore starter Noah Sowers went all six innings only giving up three runs on seven hits. Sowers pitch count was fairly low as Garden City batters kept flying out thanks to 71.8 percent of his pitches coming inside of the strike zone.
“It amazing what throwing strikes will do,” Shipley said. “He pitched to contact and he got them to force some bad swings… That’s Noah’s thing. He’s not going to come in and throw 94, he’s just simply going to fill it up and keeping batters on their toes.”
The Buffalos picked up a run in third and two more in the sixth but Dodge City responded with one run in the fourth and fifth and three game-ending runs thanks to Garden City hitting the batter with the bases loaded and a single by Blansett to push the lead to 10 and trigger the run-rule.
The Red Demons will be back in action tonight as they take on Liberal at 6 p.m. with both junior varsity squads playing before that at 4 p.m. It’s Pack the Park night so the 5 dollar admission for adults gets you a ticket for a hamburger and a raffle ticket.