By Nathan Heuer
With a series-clinching opportunity on the line, freshman Isaac Garza showed tenacity on the mound in his second relief appearance of the season.
The Badger bats followed suit.
Garza, a Plainview High School alum, recorded a 1-2-3 inning in the final two frames on Saturday at Hodgetown to secure an 11-7 game four victory and a 3-1 series advantage for the second consecutive season against Garden City Community College.
“First and foremost, you have to give credit to Garza for coming in in a tough spot with the game on the line and making some tough pitches when he had to,” Amarillo College head coach Brandon Rains said.
After Saturday’s contest at Hodgetown, an emotional Garza gave praise to his teammates for their support and execution on defense.
“When coach called my number, I was ready. I felt really good, and I knew once I went out there in my first inning, I was going to finish the game on the mound,” he said. “I give God all the glory, he gave me the strength to finish this game. I’ve been through a lot lately and this means a lot to get through it with these guys.”
Badger batters hit five singles and two doubles in the seventh and eighth innings, which plated six runs. The offensive outbreak turned a 6-5 deficit into an 11-6 lead heading into the top of the ninth.
Amarillo College finished the series with 48 hits, the third-highest total over four games since the reboot of athletics.
The offensive showcase was highlighted by five Badger home runs – two of which were hit by redshirt freshman outfielder Chris Benavidez.
Sophomore outfielder Sydney Ward hit his second home run of the season during Friday’s game two. The solo shot moves his home run total to 23 for his career.
Fellow returning sophomore Grant Watkins, the team’s clean-up hitter, added his second homer of 2024 via a three-run blast during the third of game two.
Rains noted his team’s talent at the plate and their ability to perform on a consistent basis.
“As long as we pitch and play defense, we’re going to be pretty good. The home runs and laser shows we’ve been putting on at times. Our lineup is full of well-disciplined hitters, and they have a great approach at the plate,” he said.
The Badgers season record sits at 5-3 heading into their four-game homestand against Lamar Community College this upcoming Saturday and Sunday.
The following is a summary for each game of Amarillo College’s series against the BroncBusters.
Garden City opened the series on Friday at Hodgetown with a 9-4 victory over the Badgers.
Amarillo College outhit the BroncBusters 10-5, but the Badgers committed two errors on defense and stranded eight baserunners, including a bases-loaded jam in the fourth frame.
“Those guys from Garden City had a lot of fight,” Rains said. “They came ready to play off the bat.”
Ward and Bret Deegan paced the Badgers at the plate with two hits apiece.
Gabe Watson had six strikeouts, five walks, and allowed two hits in his second start. Noah Turner relived Watson halfway through the fourth inning and struck out three batters in 2 2/3 frames.
Klein Oak High School product Bret Deegan earned Amarillo College Pitcher of the Week to start the season against Johnson County.
The freshman righty provided an encore to conclude play on Saturday at Hodgetown. Deegan improved his pitching record to 2-0 via a four inning, seven-strikeout performance.
“He pitches with a lot of confidence and Deegan did a great job with the bat as well,” Rains said.
The two-way standout became the first Badger this season to collect a win on the mound and hit a home run. Deegan’s two-run blast occurred in the bottom of the first frame in game four.
Amarillo College claimed the 14-4 run-rule victory by the conclusion of the sixth frame
Benavidez, Ward, and Watkins each had three hits each in the game. The top-of-the-order trio combined for 12 RBIs.
Amarillo College led from start to finish in a 7-3 win to begin play on Saturday.
Duncan Bowles’ near-perfect start to the season continued as the 6-foot-6 pitcher from Randall High struck out seven batters and allowed no earned runs in five innings of work.
Bowles is the lone Badger with a 0.00 ERA through two games this season (minimum two innings pitched).
“Those guys are pitching like number ones,” Rains said of Bowles and Deegan. “They get better and better every time they take the mound. They fill it up, throw strikes and have command of all their pitches.”
The Badgers led 6-0 before he was relieved by fellow freshman Carter Beard.
The Abilene Wylie High School alum struck out one batter and allowed a pair of hits and walks in the final two innings.
Leadoff hitter, Benavidez, hit a home run on the first pitch in the bottom of the first inning. The Blinn Community College transfer had a team high two hits and an RBI.
The win marked the first run-rule victory of the season.
Badger bats were firing on all cylinders to begin a frigid contest, which hovered around 40 degrees and was drizzling throughout.
Deegan’s two-run homer gave the Badgers a 2-0 lead in the second. An Aidan Young single, Benavidez single, and Sydney Ward double grew AC’s advantage to 5-1 in the third.
Garden City rallied with a three-run fifth and two-run seventh, giving the BroncBusters a 6-5 advantage.
After taking a 7-6 lead in the bottom of the seventh, AC bats strung together five consecutive hits – their highest total of the season – in the eighth to take a convincing 11-6 lead.
The Badgers amassed a series-best 15 hits and 11 RBIs.
Young and David De Hoyos tallied a team-best three hits each.
Redshirt freshman pitcher Lawson Peel got the start and won his first game as Badger after being out with an injury a year ago. The Lubbock Cooper High School product recorded one strikeout, allowed one hit, and one earned run.