By JACK NICHOLL
Five up, five down.
That's what the Hays Larks' pitchers did Tuesday at Larks park against Dodge City.
Except it wasn't the Dodge City hitters that were going down - it was Hays pitchers. The Larks (7-3, 5-3) sent out five different pitchers in the 11-4 loss, the most since the third game of the season at Dodge City.
The going was rough early, as Levi Schlick allowed the first five batters to reach base, albeit one on an error. The Larks were behind 4-0 by the bottom of the inning.
Schlick settled down after the first inning, but ended with six runs off five walks and five hits in four innings pitched.
"He hasn't been ahead of hitters," Larks manager Frank Leo said. "He needs to get ahead of hitters and he needs to pound that zone, and he hasn't been doing that."
It was the second-straight shaky start for Schlick, who allowed three runs and four walks in five innings in a win against the Liberal BJ's on June 15.
"He was our starter, so he was the one that struggled, and just didn't have good enough command," Leo said. "We didn't get off to a good start, and that's a quality arm we went up against, and if you're going to beat a quality arm like that your guy is going to have to match him until you get him figured out and play for runs."
Riley Welch pitched the fifth and allowed two home runs to his first four batters. In his one inning he gave up four runs (two earned) on four hits and a hit-by-pitch.
If there was a positive about the struggling pitching, it was that it allowed multiple pitchers a chance to get work in, including Kyle Peterson. Peterson struck out four and gave up an unearned run in two innings.
"I felt awesome," Peterson said. "It's the first time I've gotten some innings in a while. I threw a little bit for my college, but I haven't really gone out there and given my all in a while, but I felt pretty good. I feel like my arm is probably going to be a little sore tomorrow though."
Peterson had a 2.19 earned-run average in 12.1 innings pitched for the Larks in 2009, and came into this season again not expecting to throw many innings. However, with ace Patrick Cooper recently signing with the Detroit Tigers, the Larks are thin on pitching -- though Leo said it did not hurt the Larks on Tuesday.
"Kyle did a good job," Leo said. "We know he can throw. Now we've got Ollie Goulder that's going to afford us to get Kyle in there to work on the mound and we'll continue to do that. But he's got a good arm and we'll try to take advantage of that, particularly since we're still a little short on arms.
Peterson said he will likely be used in a late-inning reliever role for the rest of the season, similar to 2009.
Andy Lewton and Goulder, who started the game in left field, pitched a scoreless final two frames to minimize the damage. Lewton and Goulder have combined for less than nine innings this summer.
"For our pitching staff it looks like we found a few more arms than it looks like we had before the game," Peterson said. Larks suffering injuries
Three Larks infielders were unavailable due to injury for the 11-4 loss against Dodge City.
Shortstop Elvin Rodriguez missed his second straight game, while utility players Rob Elliott and Larry Rodriguez missed their first.
"We're going to have to fight through that, because the banged up guys are going to be out for a while," Larks manager Frank Leo said. "We have to find a way to win."
The Larks had five infield errors against Dodge City which led to four unearned runs. In 18 combined starts this season, the three injured players have made four errors.
At the plate Elliott is leading the Larks with a .514 on-base percentage, while Elvin Rodriguez is batting .292. Larry Rodriguez is yet to record a hit in five at-bats this season.