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Tiger softball picked fifth in MIAA -1/29/2015, 11:27 AM

Tiger women win at Emporia -1/29/2015, 10:29 AM

FHSU men pick up needed win at Emporia -1/29/2015, 10:30 AM

No. 12 Wichita State survives Loyola's challenge -1/29/2015, 10:23 AM

KU wins ugly game -1/29/2015, 10:31 AM

Graham enjoying KU life -1/28/2015, 11:03 AM

Mountaineers take down Wildcats -1/28/2015, 11:03 AM

Tuesday's area prep basketball boxscores -1/28/2015, 11:03 AM

Belichick, Patriots focused solely on Seattle, Super Bowl -1/28/2015, 11:02 AM

MVC strong at the top -1/28/2015, 11:02 AM

Former Tiger, HHS coach named new FB coach at Mac -1/27/2015, 6:57 PM

Tiger women vault to No. 6 in poll -1/27/2015, 2:39 PM

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Pats' owner defends Belichick, Brady -1/27/2015, 10:17 AM

Alexander newcomer of the week -1/27/2015, 10:17 AM

KSU's Edwards finding success as the sixth man -1/27/2015, 10:17 AM

FHSU wins Kansas Cup after scoring error -1/27/2015, 10:17 AM

FHSU wrestling takes second in Kansas Cup -1/26/2015, 10:27 AM

WSU baseball starts second season under Butler -1/26/2015, 10:36 AM

No. 14 WSU hammers Drake -1/26/2015, 10:37 AM

Stafford named Offensive MVP in first Pro Bowl -1/26/2015, 10:27 AM

TMP boys, girls claim MCL title; HHS boys fall -1/26/2015, 10:27 AM

Brand tops Deterding in Bob Kuhn Classic -1/25/2015, 8:41 PM

Tiger wrestling falls short of No. 3 UNK -1/25/2015, 8:41 PM

No. 17 Tigers dominate No. 4 Pitt State -1/25/2015, 8:41 PM

FHSU men fall short of Pitt State -1/25/2015, 8:41 PM

Friday's area prep basketball boxscores -1/25/2015, 2:45 PM

-1/25/2015, 2:00 PM

TMP girls use overtime for semifinal win -1/24/2015, 3:13 PM

Young key in Indians' semifinal win -1/24/2015, 1:22 PM

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K-State agrees to series with Vandy -1/23/2015, 10:13 AM

Tiger women win 16th straight -- Pitt State next -1/23/2015, 10:13 AM

Huge second half fuels Tigers -1/23/2015, 10:13 AM

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Prep basketball

Boys

Atwood 76, St. Francis 65

Dighton 62, Oberlin 47

Hillsboro 50, Goodland 47

Lakeside 42, Lincoln 32

Minneapolis 68, Russell 35

Rock Hills 42, Natoma 37

Salina Central 62, Andover 58

Salina South 62, Sacred Heart 47

Sharon Springs 75, Leoti 38

St. John's Beloit-Tipton 57, Osborne 34

Sylvan-Lucas 61, Thunder Ridge 48

Girls

Dighton 44, Atwood 11

Dodge City 71, Hays High 28

Hesston 51, Goodland 18

Hoisington 60, Victoria 46

Hoxie 65, St. Francis 13

Lincoln 33, Lakeside 26

Minneapolis 47, Otis-Bison 24

Osborne 59, Wilson 34

Sharon Springs 63, Oberlin 42

Sylvan-Lucas 43, Natoma 41 (ot)

Tescott 41, Rock Hills 33

Trego 56, Leoti 27

Thunder Ridge 33, St. John's Beloit-Tipton 30

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SPOTLIGHT
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State champs: Hays Legion wins Class AAA championship

Published on -8/4/2012, 8:26 PM

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By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

MANHATTAN -- After pitcher Austin Unrein forced a groundout to third base, his teammates immediately assaulted the mound and executed a celebratory dog pile.

For the Hays Senior Legion and the Hays baseball community, the jubilation was probably warranted. After all, a state championship was a long time coming.

Hays' state championship drought in baseball lasted 31 years, but the Hays Eagles finally ended it Saturday, defeating Pittsburg 9-5 in the Class AAA championship game of the state tournament at Tointon Family Stadium in Manhattan.

Bolstered by a six-run third inning and first-time pitching appearance by a member of the Junior Legion team, the Eagles (45-8) managed to withstand Pittsburg's tournament-leading offense.

"It feels great," said Eagles first-year coach Brad Kelly. "I really am speechless. I don't know what to say. These guys have battled all year. They deserve it. They worked their butts off for a lot of years."

It was the first state baseball championship a Hays team has captured since 1981.

In 1981, Thomas More Prep-Marian won the 4-3-2-1A state championship and the Hays Senior Legion team also won the state legion tournament.

The Eagles' bats were on fire against Pittsburg, totaling 14 hits -- the most of the Eagles' tournament run.

Hays produced the bulk of its offense in the third inning when the Eagles got seven consecutive batters on base without an out.

Unrein provided the catalyst for the explosive inning, hitting a triple to right-center field.

Then the Eagles hit three singles and drew three walks, scoring four, and Unrein capped the inning with a two-out, two-RBI single to right field to take a 7-2 lead.

Pittsburg battled back, scoring a run in the fourth and two in the fifth, but never managed to tie it.

Hays starter Josh Heifner (12-1) got roughed up a little but still managed to earn the victory.

He lasted five innings, allowed five runs (four earned), eight hits and six walks and struck out one.

His 12th win tied him for the seventh most wins by a Hays Senior Legion pitcher in Hays' history. The record is 13.

Layne Downing relieved him in the sixth. It was his first appearance for the Senior Legion squad, and he made it count. He stemmed the tide of Pittsburg's rally, allowing just a hit and a walk in three innings.

Kelly said he learned of Downing's ability when he coached the Junior Legion team last year.

"I knew Layne was a guy who was going to come in and throw strikes and not walk anybody," Kelly said. "It was a gut feeling. We decided to go with him. We felt like we could get the job done, and he did a great job throwing three zeros in a row."

As AAA state champions, the Hays Eagles earned a berth in the National Region 4 Tournament from Aug. 9 to 14 in New Orleans, and Kelly said his team plans to make the trip.

"We are going to keep playing until they tell us we can't play anymore," Kelly said. "We are going to try to win every time just like we have all year."

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