The Barton Community College baseball team opened the conference season Friday at Lawson-Biggs Field with 9-5 and 4-1 victories over Garden City Community College.
Improving to 10-3 on the year, the Cougars and Broncbusters will resume the four-game set at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, two hours earlier than scheduled due to forecasted high winds sweeping through the area in the afternoon.
The Broncbusters threatened in the opening inning by loading the bases with no outs but Zach Curry would set the tone in striking out the side to thwart the threat. Curry would essentially handcuff Garden City the next three innings before a one-out error opened the door of momentum with the Broncbusters' back-to-back RBI doubles breaking up the shutout with a two-out single later plating the third run of the inning.
Barton got all the runs they needed in the first inning to hand Eric Heiman his first loss of the season (2-1). Stringing together six consecutive hits in the inning, Charlie Peyla drove in the first two runs with a bases loaded single with Tyler Bandiera doubling home another with Trenton Ferguson driving a ball to the gap for a two RBI triple. Noah Rheinheimer hit to the right side for an RBI groundout to cap the big inning.
The Cougars added solo runs in a three consecutive innings as Noah Geekie picked up his second of three hits in the opener with a fourth inning two-out RBI single before Bandiera launched his second home run of the year in leading off the fifth. Peyla capped Barton's scoring in the sixth with a two-out double to lead the Cougars with three runs batted in.
Striking out eight and scattering six hits in his five frames on the hill, Curry improved to 2-0 on the year with Clay Wesbrooks striking out three more before running into trouble in the seventh.
The Broncbusters loaded the bases with one-out, driving in two on a double as the call to the bullpen brought in Tanner Howe. Getting the first batter on an infield pop-up, Howe shook off plunking the next batter to induce a harmless chopper up the middle to seal the game.
Steward helped Barton get off to a good start in the back end of the doubleheader with a first inning triple scoring on Riley's sac fly.
Brett Erickson pushed across the eventual game winner in the ensuing frame on squeeze bunt to score Bandiera's leadoff double. Stewart drove gave Barton a three run cushion delivering a two-out RBI single.
The lead grew by one with a little help from the Broncbusters as Rheinheimer's one-out single would eventually score after Erickson's walk, Casey Wulfkuhle's ground out, and a wild pitch.
Easton Smith game the Cougars 6.1 innings of five strikeouts and four hits improving to 3-0 on the season.
Garden City spoiled the shut out in the sixth with pure hustle as Jake Barber, after doubling with one out, would score from second on a Turner McDonald's deep sac fly down the right field line.
Howe came out of the pen again to slam the door on the Broncbusters' next threat in the eighth stranding two runs with a strikeout before sending Garden City down in order in the eighth for his 5th save of the season.
Stewart and Geekie had consecutive multi-hit games to finish a combined 9-of-16 as the Cougars outhit the Broncbusters 22-14 with the pitching staff combining for nineteen strikeouts in the pair of contests.