By CONOR NICHOLL
WICHITA -- Hays Larks manager Frank Leo decided to make a change at third base for Thursday's 2-0 loss against Seattle in the National Baseball Congress World Series.
Throughout the summer, Brandon Dixon and Kelton Rule, a Hays High School and Fort Hays State University product, have shared time at third.
Dixon carried a .217 average and .290 slugging percentage in the game, while Rule was hitting .206, but with a .351 slugging percentage.
Dixon started the first round contest, a 6-5, 12-inning victory, against Crestwood (Ill.). He went 0-for-5 at the plate, but had six assists in the field, including a nice play to end the 11th inning.
Thursday, Leo started Rule over Dixon. Rule went 0-for-2 and made an error in the field in the third inning that allowed the eventual game-winning run. Dixon entered the game in the sixth and turned a terrific double play. But he struck out twice in his two at-bats.
"Rule has maybe a little bit of an edge offensively, Dixon a little defensively," Leo said. "We went with that. Unfortunately, he made an error. Dixon made a big play for us, but we also got to get some offense going in that spot."
During the first week of play, the NBC has usually been played in heat well over 100 degrees. The Larks' first-round contest that started at 8:43 p.m. Monday and had a game-time temperature of 100 degrees.
On Wednesday, the NBC was postponed several hours because of rain.
On Thursday, the temperature was 87 degrees at first pitch. But the night was more humid than Monday's game and the turf was still damp from the rain, changes that may have hurt in the Larks. Hays made three errors in the infield, including two in the third inning that led to Seattle's two runs.
"I think the big thing tonight was the humidity," Wilson said. "When I was waiting for our game and watching the game before us, I was sitting there and then all of a sudden both of hands were sweating, soaking wet."
Hays first baseman Cam Brown had a throwing error in the third inning after he received a throw on a bunt from
starting pitcher Kirk Jewasko. In the fourth, Jewasko had an error on a bunt when he threw wide to first.
"The ball (that Brown threw) could have slipped out," Jewasko said. "The one that I threw to him was already a little wet, so it had to have a little condensation on there."
Even with the second round loss, the Larks -- many of whom are playing in their first World Series -- remained positive.
"We know that we have got a team that can beat anybody in this tournament, so we are looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow," Jewasko said. "We are not going to worry about this one. It's a tough loss, but we will get over it and get ready to play tomorrow."
Jayhawk League update
Liberal, the defending NBC champion, rolled through its first two games by a combined score of 23-0. Haysville and Hays each won their first game and lost their second. Derby lost its first, but won its second contest.