By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

The National Baseball Congress World Series announced this week the format will change for this year's tournament. The field will again have 32 teams, but the low end 16 teams will play the first eight days of the tournament. Then, the top two teams from the first week will advance to the second week. Fourteen additional squads will qualify for the second week based on several criteria.

"The big thing there is they are trying to cut down expenses," Hays Larks manager Frank Leo said. "I don't know if it will totally do that. Obviously for the teams that will come in on the last eight days, it will cut down, but the two teams that survive out of the first part of the bracket, they will be there for quite a long time."

The Jayhawk League winner is virtually assured of a spot in the second week. Hays finished third at the NBC last year.

"It will be interesting," Leo said. "My biggest concern is if you are playing in the championship bracket, not playing in that prelim bracket, you're going to have eight days that you've got to figure out how to keep your kids focused and not thinking about going home, because it's a tough time of the year as it is.

"In the typical years of the World Series, kids start getting a little nervous about it being close to school time, wanting to get home for a few days," he added. "...It will be a challenge to try to keep your team focused, and to try to keep your team intact."