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Monarchs set to play for state title today

Published on -8/5/2012, 8:25 PM

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By The Hays Daily News

The Hays Monarchs mainly consists of players from Thomas More Prep-Marian. Those players have never won a state championship, but have come close.

In 2010-11, the Monarchs finished second in Class 3A both years. This spring, TMP lost in the first round of state. Today, the Monarchs will have another chance.

After two pressure-packed victories Saturday, Hays will play Iola for the Class AA American Legion state championship today in Sabetha. Game time is 10 a.m.

The Monarchs entered Saturday with one loss in the double-elimination tournament. Hays defeated two-time defending state champion Pratt, 2-1, and then beat Iola, 5-3. Hays improved to 21-12.

"Our guys have such a flair for the dramatic," coach Dustin Schumacher said on his postgame radio show.

Against Pratt, Monarchs' starter Shane Zimmerman pitched a complete game and allowed one run on two hits with six strikeouts against two walks. He had four 1-2-3 innings.

The Monarchs scored the game-winning run in the seventh inning on a wild pitch. Hays loaded the bases with two walks and a single and then had two strikeouts.

The Monarchs were one strike away from extra innings, but Pratt uncorked the wild pitch and Nathan Zimmerman scored with the winning run. Hays had six hits in the contest; no team committed an error.

"When the pressure is on, they know how to perform," Schumacher said.

Then, Hays avenged a loss to Iola earlier in the tournament with a victory. Iola scuffled early with three errors in the first and one in the second. Hays led 5-0 for most of the game.

Starter Pierce Schippers had thrown seven shutout innings earlier in the tournament and started against Iola on short rest. He worked five innings and didn't allow a run. No runner even reached second base.

He couldn't continue because he reached the 12-inning limit rule for Legion baseball.

Then, Iola scored a run in the bottom of the sixth on an error from Hays shortstop Nick Hammeke. In the seventh, Iola knocked Hays reliever Cameron Brin out of the game with four straight singles that produced two runs.

With the bases loaded and one out, Shane Zimmerman struck out the final two batters to save the game. Nathan Zimmerman will start the state championship today.

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