By RANDY GONZALES
Ollie Goulder made sure there would be no extra innings this time.
Goulder's two-run single with one out in the bottom of the ninth lifted the Hays Larks to a 3-2 Jayhawk League win over the Derby Twins on Thursday night at Larks Park.
"We needed some excitement," Hays manager Frank Leo said. "Kind of needed that energy."
Hays (20-14 overall, 13-13 Jayhawk) was coming off an extra-inning loss at Liberal on Tuesday, and had twice lost in extra innings at Derby (20-15, 13-12) earlier in the season.
The Larks trailed by a run entering their last at-bat when reliever Cody Griebling walked Sean Wilson to start the ninth. Joe Huwer got aboard on a bunt and Andy Lewton came in to run for him. After Andrew Heck struck out, Griebling hit Jason Morris with a pitch to load the bases for Goulder.
After taking strike one, Goulder lined a single down the line in left to score Wilson and Lewton. Larks players raced out of the dugout and dogpiled on Goulder between first and second.
Goulder was looking for a fastball, and got it.
"Fastball, little two-seamer," he said. "I knew, bases loaded, he wanted to come right at me."
Until Goulder's big hit, the Larks had little luck against Twins pitching. Derby starter Kirby St. John had a perfect game until the seventh, when the Larks scored their first run. Brandon Eckerle led off the inning with a walk for Hays' first baserunner, then stole second. After two strikeouts by St. John, Heck singled to center for the Larks' first hit, scoring Eckerle to make it 2-1.
St. John worked 71βΡ3 innings, allowing one run on one hit, with one walk and six strikeouts.
"His stuff wasn't the best, but he located," Goulder said of St. John.
Meanwhile, Larks starter Kurt Wunderlich battled illness to work seven innings, After allowing two runs in the first, Wunderlich tossed six shutout innings.
"Great pitching matchup," Leo said. "St. John was outstanding, had a hard time figuring him out."
Leo praised Wunderlich's effort to keep the game close.
"He was sick, ... he went out and battled tonight," Leo said.
"He did a tremendous job, just such a tremendous competitor."
Kenny Toves pitched a scoreless eighth, and Chase Barrera (2-1) got three outs in the ninth for the win, one Hays needed as a long, hot summer of battling other Jayhawk teams is nearing an end.
"Too many games with this team when they walked off the field," Leo said of walk-off losses.
This time, it was a walk-off win.
"Great feeling to do that," Leo said. "So many times, it was against us."
Hays and Derby continue their four-game series with a game at 7 tonight at Larks Park.
Right-hander Chris Larsen (3-2) is the probable starter for Hays.
"It's going to be a great weekend series," Leo said.