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SPOTLIGHT
Indians coming off busy weekend, host regional

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Indians coming off busy weekend, host regional

Published on -5/14/2012, 10:23 AM

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By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

With Hays High School's graduation Sunday, Indian baseball coach Frank Leo knew he would have to get his team's Class 5A regional tournament preparation started last week even though his team still had two doubleheaders to play at Liberal and Dodge City.

It's a quick turnaround between graduation festivities and the regional tournament Tuesday, which was why earning the No. 1 seed was so important.

Hays High (18-2) got the top seed in the tournament and will face Goddard-Eisenhower (5-15) at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Indian Field.

"(Earning the No. 1 seed is) even more important with graduation weekend," Leo said. "It gives the seniors some more recovery time (after a busy Sunday). We don't have to jump on a bus to go play."

If the Indians win, they'll face the winner of No. 4 seed Salina Central (11-9) and No. 5 seed Salina South (8-12) at 6 p.m.

Goddard-Eisenhower's first-year baseball program has struggled this year in the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League Division II. The school opened this fall.

However, many of its students come from Goddard High School, which defeated Hays High 4-0 on May 5 in the Western Plains Diamond Classic, and Leo said the players might carry a similar baseball psyche.

"It's a new school, but they have the Goddard tradition there," Leo said. "We saw what Goddard High School brought at the Diamond Classic."

Hays High already has swept Salina South in a doubleheader and beat Salina Central.

The Indians won at Salina South 7-4 and 9-3 in their second doubleheader of the year, and they defeated Salina Central 9-2 at the Diamond Classic.

"Once we get past Goddard-Eisenhower, we are going to have to be ready to play another tough opponent," Leo said. "Both of those Salina schools have their strengths."

Hays High got a good warm up for the regional tournament with its doubleheader against Dodge City.

The Red Demons stretched Game 1 to 14 innings before the Indians got the winning run Friday, clinching Hays High's WAC title with an 8-0 conference record.

"The intenstiy of that 14 inning, 2-1 game was a pressure-packed game and something you have to get used to doing," Leo said.

Heading into the game, Leo said the game plan was to keep the two throwers' pitch counts low.

Hays High senior Austin Unrein threw the first six innings, and junior Hayden Hutchison (5-0) pitched the final eight innings to get the win.

Despite that, Leo said Hutchison's and Unrein's arms will be fine for the regional tournament after getting three days of rest.

On Tuesday, Leo said he plans for Hutchison to pitch the first game and Unrein (3-1) to pitch the regional championship.

"The focus is good to have for the post season," Leo said regarding their wins against Dodge City. "We had to keep our focus, and our guys did that, which is a good sign."

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