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TMP earns split with Garden

By BRETT MARSHALL

Special to The Hays Daily News

GARDEN CITY -- When you're searching for the first win of a season in any sport, you really don't care how you get it.

That was somewhat the way TMP-Marian baseball coach Brian Schumacher looked at the Monarchs doubleheaders split Thursday with the Garden City Buffaloes.

The Monarchs frittered away the opener, losing 4-1, but Shane Zimmerman, Liam Stults and Braiden Werth combined to yield only four hits, but in the process gave up all four runs in the fifth and sixth innings without the benefit of a Garden City hit.

"We just don't make things easy," Schumacher said.

But in the nightcap, which proved to be every bit as exciting as the first game was mundane, the Monarchs somehow, some way, left Clint Lightner Stadium with a resolute 8-7 win in a game that went 10 innings and lasted just short of three hours.

"I certainly feel more confident coming out with a win," Schumacher said. "We had the lead at least three different times and then gave it right back to them."

Schumacher, whose team lost 10 players to graduation from 2012, has just one senior on this year's roster, so bringing his youthful corps of players along is a sometimes painstaking process.

The Game 2 win will go a long way in providing the inexperienced Monarchs some much-needed confidence.

"To be this young, give up the leads, we still managed to hang in there, got some hits, moved runners along," Schumacher said. "The kids did a lot. I hope this helps them know they have a good chance to be a good team."

In the opener, Zimmerman battled Garden City ace Edgar Montoya through four innings of scoreless ball. Zimmerman, who had seven strikeouts, but walked five, then saw the scoreless game slip away by issuing four of those passes in the fifth, along with a throwing error by catcher Cameron Brin that brought one run home.

Garden City plated two insurance runs, again without a hit, in its half of the sixth. The Monarchs managed just six hits, committed that one error and stranded eight runners on the bases.

The nightcap was nothing like the opener.

Garden scored twice in the second, and TMP responded with a single run in the fourth. The Monarchs scored three runs in the fifth off starter Logan Dechant, taking a 4-2 lead.

Brin had an RBI single in the fourth as did Werth in the fifth.

Kameron Schmidt drove in a run with a single in the fifth and another run came home on a Garden City fielding/throwing error.

The Buffs tied the game with two runs in the fifth, but the Monarchs took the lead once again with a single tally in the sixth. Werth got the run in with a sacrifice fly to center.

Garden responded with a lone run in the sixth, tying the game once again at 5. Neither team scored in the seventh, sending the game to extra innings.

After a scoreless eighth, the Monarchs netted two runs in the ninth when Stults singled to center, the ball was bobbled by Garden's Ivan Rodriguez, allowing Taylor Wasinger to score and then Grant Romme added a run-scoring single for a 7-5 advantage.

The Monarchs couldn't close the deal, though, with Garden rallying one more time for a 7-7 deadlock.

In their half of the 10th, Jordan Gottschalk led off with a double, and raced home on a throwing error by Garden's shortstop, trying to throw out Werth at first. Another Garden error and a single had Ryan Schippers racing home, but he was thrown out at the plate.

With Schmidt struggling at times on the mound, the Buffs loaded the bases with back-to-back walks and a hit batsman. But Schmidt managed to induce Desmond Smith into a swinging third strike in the bottom of the 10th to end the game.

That first win was oh-so sweet.

"It's high school ball, the kids were a little nervous," Schumacher said.

"We left a lot of runners out there on the bases, but the good news is we started hitting the ball better. Even in the first game, we hit some balls hard, but right at them."

The Monarchs even got the benefit of a batting order mishap by Garden City in the ninth inning, that ended a bases-loaded, two-out situation, resulting in the third out being automatically called for one batter hitting in front of another.

TMP (1-3) will next play on Tuesday when the Monarchs host Ellis.