Legion wins first round game in Zone
Published on -7/24/2012, 10:21 AM
By KLINT SPILLER
Hays Senior Legion second baseman Riley Kaus admitted the rivalry might be tempered a bit after already having played Great Bend seven times this season.
After all, it's difficult to hold grudges against a team you have played nine times, counting spring baseball at Hays High School and summer baseball with the Eagles.
"It's not as much (of a rivalry) as it was in spring ball," Kaus said. "Still, the feeling is there a little bit, but it's not as strong."
The Hays Eagles defeated Great Bend 9-4 on Monday in the first day of the double-elimination Class AAA Zone Tournament at Larks Park.
Kaus said he's grown to enjoy playing this squad and considers it a friendlier rivalry after seeing them so many times.
However, he might enjoy the games a bit more than Great Bend has, as the Eagles (40-8) have dominated Great Bend this summer, winning six of seven.
Kaus had a big role in the sixth victory Monday.
He reached base on all five of his plate appearances, going 3 of 4 with a walk, three RBIs and three runs scored.
"I've been feeling it lately," Kaus said. "The past three games I've been doing pretty well, but you never know. Baseball is on and off sometimes."
Hays took control early and never relinquished it, answering every Great Bend offensive surge with a surge of its own.
Kaus drove in the first two runs with singles in the first and third innings. Catcher Jarrett Sanders then brought home Kaus with an RBI double in the third.
Great Bend (10-13) recorded a run in the top of the fifth and seventh, and Hays replied with a run in the bottom of each respective inning before blowing the lead open with four runs in the bottom of the eighth.
In the ninth, Great Bend started to rally against reliever Tyler Wooldridge, scoring two runs, but by then, it was too late.
Austin Unrein (8-1) had a solid day on the mound.
Unrein struck out 13 batters through eight innings and allowed two runs and four hits, but he struggled somewhat with his control, walking six and hitting two with pitches.
"That wasn't his sharpest outing by any means, but he didn't want to come out even in the ninth even though he had thrown 130-some pitches," said Eagles coach Brad Kelly.
"He is a bulldog. He wants the ball in big spots and finds ways to get it done even if he doesn't have his best command that he's had in the past."
Great Bend starter Bryce Beck was the pitcher who earned the victory against Hays earlier in the season at a tournament in Manhattan, but he didn't achieve the same success Monday.
He lasted 6.2 innings and gave up five runs (three earned), nine hits and five walks while striking out one, but he kept his team in it as Great Bend never trailed by more than three runs while he was in the game.
"We had a tough time hitting him the first time, so I knew it would be tough," Kelly said. "I'm just glad we got away here with a win."
Kelly said the Great Bend-Hays rivalry might not feel as strong to some of the players, but for him, it's as strong as ever.
"It is always a challenge every time we play them," he said.
Getting the first victory was a significant step towards achieving the Eagles' goal of making the state tournament.
With the win, they earned the right to not play in the second game Tuesday.
They'll play the winner of Great Bend and Dodge City at 6:30 p.m. at Larks Park.
"If you lose tonight, you've got to win four in a row," Kelly said. "Not that we wouldn't be able to do that, it's just I like our chances better when we've got to win one out of two instead of having to win four in a row."