Hays Legion moves into Final Four, closer to title
Published on -8/3/2012, 10:23 AM
By KLINT SPILLER
MANHATTAN -- Hays Senior Legion coach Brad Kelly said he drove his wife crazy in the hospital as he listened to the first round of the Class AAA State Legion Tournament.
Kelly chose to miss the game Wednesday so he could be in Hays for the arrival of his newborn son -- Brant.
"I was just pacing back and forth, especially after that first inning (when Hays allowed four runs)," Kelly said. "I was just sweating bullets. You kind of feel helpless. Not that I'm out there playing anyway, but you want to be there and support the team."
Kelly made it to Manhattan for the second round game Thursday at Tointon Family Stadium, but it wasn't a stressful affair as the Eagles won 8-1 against Newton.
Hays improved to 43-8.
It earned a berth in the semifinals.
Pitcher Austin Unrein (9-1) led the way for the Eagles, fanning 13 Newton batters in eight innings of work. He allowed just one run, three hits and two walks.
For Unrein, his 13-strikeout day wasn't an aberration. So far this season, he's averaged 12.3 strikeouts per nine innings, but he said he still doesn't expect these performances to happen every time.
"I was just trying to get groundball outs and keep the ball down," Unrein said. "It took me a while to find the guys' strikezone, but when I did, I was pretty efficient with my pitches."
Though the Eagles put up eight runs, much of their offense came from taking advantage of Newton's mistakes.
Hays produced just one hit in the first five innings, but the Eagles still managed to build a 4-1 lead.
"When you give good teams opportunities, they normally capitalize on them, and that's kind of what we did," Kelly said.
Hays finished with eight hits, but the Eagles were patient at the plate and drew 10 walks.
"We haven't seen a lot of strikes," Kelly said. "When you don't see a lot of strikes, it's hard to get into a rhythm, but we've got to do a better job. When we get a pitch that we normally hit hard, we've got to start hitting it hard."
Unrein and left fielder Taylor Renz led the squad at the plate. They each finished 2 of 5 with an RBI and a run scored.
Though the Eagles dominated the game, they did suffer a loss.
Right fielder Casey Sedbrook hurt his hamstring late in the game, and Kelly said there's a good chance he won't play Friday.
If Sedbrook is out, it'll be the second time in a week the Eagles have lost their leadoff hitter.
Clayton Basgall tore his ACL during football conditioning at La Crosse following the Zone tournament in Hays.
Kelly said he would likely just shift everyone in the rotation up one spot and possibly put Jake Sedbrook behind the plate and have catcher Jarrett Sanders play in the outfield.
But whoever is in the lineup, Kelly said his team has done a good job of putting itself in the best possible position of achieving their ultimate goal.
If the Eagles win their next two games, they will be Class AAA American Legion state champions. The Eagles will play Pittsburg in the next game. Pittsburg beat Manhattan 15-7.
"We've given ourselves a chance to do something special over the next couple of days," Kelly said.