By NICK McQUEEN
In the final tune-up before starting play this weekend in the National Baseball Congress World Series, the Hays Larks had just a few goals in mind in Tuesday's final home action against a group of alumni at Larks Park.
First, Hays wanted to get some pitchers some work. Then, see some live pitching against veteran right-hander Aaron Breit, who was added to the Larks' NBC roster.
The Larks also wanted one more chance to play in front of, and win for, their home fans, who have packed the park most of the season. All that happened in an 18-3 rout of the alumni team.
“They'll start doing this every year,” said fourth-year Lark Aaron Cornell. “It's hard to pick up games this late in the season because of the whole week off.”
But the Larks aren't going to complain any. With the 2013 Jayhawk League championship under their belt, they have used the last five days to relax, all the while getting some work in to prepare. The league title, Hays' second straight and eighth overall, clinched a berth in Championship Week (final 16) of the NBC tourney.
Hays is scheduled to play its first game at 7 p.m. Saturday at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in Wichita.
“We had to get some work in,” Larks manager Frank Leo said. “Our pitchers had to throw, that's the big thing.
“We got everyone in that needed to throw,” he added. “Our hitters got to see some action, particularly off Aaron Breit — good for the guys and good for Aaron.”
Breit threw into the fourth inning, but didn't record an out as the Larks blew the game open with a seven-run inning off him and reliever Kyle Leroy.
Breit, a former Thomas More Prep-Marian standout, Garden City Community College Broncbuster, and Hays Lark who played professionally at the AA level with the San Diego Padres, is likely to be used out of the bullpen for the Larks. He allowed six hits with three strikeouts and a walk.
Meanwhile, the Larks went through six arms that needed work: Ian Bentley, Alex Frey, Logan DeRosier, newcomer Graylon Brown, DJ Carr and David Owen.
“Just a chance to get out, see some fly balls, see some live balls,” Cornell said. “And, see some live pitching we haven't seen all year with Aaron and those guys.”
The Larks posted 18 runs on 18 hits with three errors against the alumni.
The alumni team batted 11 guys: Doug Dreher, Jeremy Schmeidler, Dustin Dreher, Dusty Washburn, Luke Dreiling, Jake Sanders, Kelton Rule, Jay Sanders, Breit, Jarrett Sanders and Leroy.
The alumni put up all three of their runs in the fourth inning off Frey. One run came on a walk, one on a hit batsmen, the other on a groundout by Washburn.
The alumni had six hits, two coming from Jake Sanders, the older brother of Jay and Jarrett, three of the four sons of Ivan and Sherry Sanders. It was the first time the three former Hays High and Fort Hays players were on the same field in the same game.
“We knew it was going to be laid back — wasn't going to be the intensity of a Jayhawk League game,” Leo said. “Just wanted to come out, put the uniform on, and get out in front of the home fans one more time.
“It was a fun night.”