By RANDY GONZALES
Good pitching cures a lot of ills.
Friday night at Larks Park, left-hander Levi Schlick was Dr. Feelgood for a Larks club needing a lift.
Schlick pitched six-plus innings of shutout ball to help Hays blank El Dorado 3-0 in Jayhawk League action.
Last time out, Hays lost 10-2 to Liberal on Tuesday. Hays manager Frank Leo said after that game he needed Schlick to be the team's stopper once again.
Schlick delivered, dominating El Dorado, allowing one hit before three Hays relievers completed the shutout.
"He was pounding the zone," Leo said of Schlick. "He was down in the zone. He was able to win the 2-2 count ... I liked his location; his changeup was outstanding (Friday)."
Schlick (3-1) allowed only a one-out single in the second inning by Sam Bates. He retired 14 in a row before walking his only batter to lead off the seventh. Leo brought in Jacob Booden after the free pass, and he got the next three outs to preserve a 1-0 lead.
Hays (14-7 overall, 10-6 Jayhawk) broke a scoreless tie with a run in the fifth against El Dorado starter Brian Flynn. Flynn, a big, hard-throwing lefty out of Wichita State University, got the first two outs in the fifth before allowing an infield single to leadoff man Brandon Eckerle. Cody Gougler followed with a pop fly into shallow left field. Left fielder Bates, with the sun in his eyes, appeared to get a bad jump on the ball before attempting a diving catch. The ball fell, then bounced behind Bates for an RBI double.
Flynn took the loss for El Dorado (17-12, 7-11), allowing one run on six hits, with two walks and four strikeouts in 42‚—3 innings.
"We knew we had to get a pitch count run up on him early, and (we) took him deep into the count a couple times," Leo said.
After Hays reliever Andy Lewton got a double-play ball to get out of the eighth, the Larks got a little breathing room with a pair of solo homers in the bottom of the inning.
Brian Martin led off the inning with a homer to left-center and one out later Justin Klusak hit one out to left field.
"We got the long-ball power going, gives us a little bit of a cushion," Leo said.
The Larks might have built a bigger lead, except for baserunning mistakes. Klusak was caught off first base and tagged out in a rundown in the second inning; Elvin Rodriguez doubled into the right-field corner to lead off the third, but was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a triple; Andrew Heck doubled to lead off the sixth but was thrown out at third on a strong throw by center fielder Eliot Frey after catching a fly ball by Ollie Goulder.
"We also made some baserunning mistakes we've got to fix," Leo said.
The Larks' bullpen was solid behind Schlick. Larry Rodriguez finished the game striking out two batters in a perfect ninth to earn a save.
Leo was pleased with his team's play after the blowout loss earlier in the week.
"It's a good win, just the way we played the game," Leo said. "Levi gave us a very good, quality start. That's back-to-back starts for him now, which is a very good sign.
"Bullpen did a tremendous job holding them in a close game," Leo added.
Hays and El Dorado continued the three-game series on Saturday night. The teams play again today at 7 p.m. at Larks Park. Oklahoma State University right-hander Brad Propst is the probable starter, making his Larks' debut.
"It's a big series for us at home; it's a nice win," Leo said. "I thought the guys played a good, crisp game -- that's what we challenged them to do."