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Larks wrap up second place

Published on -7/21/2014, 10:10 AM

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By The Hays Daily News

With the exception of 2010, the Hays Larks have finished second or better in the Jayhawk League for the last 13 seasons.

That streak continued Sunday night when Hays completed a series sweep of the Derby Twins with a 7-3 victory in league action, taking a 3.5 game lead for second place with two games to play.

The win also gives Hays, which has four games left in the regular season, a spot in the final 16 in Championship Week at the National Baseball Congress World Series at Wichita's Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.

The Larks entered the weekend a half game back of Derby in third place, but finished a win in a suspended game from June 22 on Friday, then won 10-3 in the regularly-scheduled series opener. Then, Hays won 4-1 Saturday. Sunday's win finished a four-game swing in the standings. Hays is 25-13 overall and 19-13 in league play. Wellington, which won the league crown, is 35-6 overall and 26-4 in league. Derby fell to 15-16 in JL play.

Evan Gruener fueled Sunday's win with his 3 for 4 performance. He drove in a pair of runs, and his solo home run in the eighth inning put the finishing touches on the Twins. Zair Koeiman finished 2 for 4 and scored twice, while Tyler Leffler also had a pair of hits.

Spencer Applebach (2-1) picked up the win in three innings of relief of starter Blake Roley, who left the game after tweaking his back in the fourth inning.

On Saturday, the Larks got a good outing from Nick Goza in the start. Goza pitched seven innings of shutout ball, and left with a 3-0 lead. Ian Bentley picked up the save, though giving up Derby's lone run in the ninth. Michael Burns was 2 for 4 and rove in a run. Derrick Mount was 2 for 3 and scored a run, and drove one in. Gruener had a pair of doubles and drove in a run.

The Larks are at Dodge City today for a 7 p.m. start in league action. Hays then has two 7 p.m. non-league games Tuesday and Wednesday at Larks Park against Junction City, before closing out the season Thursday at home against the A's. Tuesday is host family night, where the Larks will honor their families in Hays.

The third- and fourth-place teams in the league will begin NBC play Friday in the tournament's first field of 16. The winner of that bracket advances to Championship Week.

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