By CONOR NICHOLL
WICHITA -- Hays Larks starter Kirk Jewasko delivered a solid start Thursday night. He worked seven strong innings and allowed no earned runs. However, two defensive breakdowns in the third inning and little offense gave Jewasko and Hays a disappointing loss.
Hays fell 2-0 to Seattle in a National Baseball Congress World Series second round contest at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. Hays outhit Seattle 9-8, but was shutout for the second time all season, first since a 2-0 defeat at Dodge City on June 22.
"We have nobody to blame but ourselves," Larks manager Frank Leo said.
Seattle scored its runs softly off a bunt, two errors, an infield single and a wild pitch.
"When it comes down to errors, it is almost like kicking yourself in the butt," second baseman Sean Wilson said. "It's real frustrating to give up those runs that way because Kirk threw his butt off tonight. He was a bulldog. That's a tough, tough way to lose."
Hays will play in an elimination-bracket contest against Walker Transmission (Colo.) at 12:30 a.m. Saturday morning. Right-hander Andrew Heck, a four-year Lark and a late pickup this summer, will make the start. The Larks have lost three straight second round contests. In 2008 and '09, they battled back to finish top six.
"I think our pitching lines up pretty good," Leo said. "I think these guys have some heart. They are not down here, 'Okay, we got a loss, let's be done with it.' They fought their tails off to get into this tournament and they are going to fight their tails off tomorrow night."
The left-handed Jewasko had an outstanding spring for University of the Incarnate Word (Tex.). He finished 12-1 with a 3.31 earned-run average and earned Division II South Central Regional Pitcher of the Year and Lone Star Conference All-Academic Player of the Year honors.
Through the first half of the summer, Jewasko struggled after he threw 84 1/3 innings in the spring. But, after work with pitching coach Keith Harper, he pitched a one-hit shutout against Dodge City on July 21 and had another strong outing Thursday. He moved to 3-4 with a 3.63 ERA for the summer.
"It was mainly just legs, just making sure I was driving, getting my hips through," Jewasko said. "When you get tired, you tend to throw a lot more with your upper body and he was just making sure I stayed on a good base there. That really helped me out."
Wilson has referred to Jewasko as a "wizard" and similar to Greg Maddux for his ability to paint the corners and coax outs without throwing 90 miles per hour.
"In his mind, he knows that he can get people out," Wilson said. "He is not afraid to throw a changeup or a curveball in a 2-0 count when most pitchers are trying to get strikes. When guys are worrying about getting to 3-0, he will get a changeup in there and will throw it for a strike."
Jewasko did that against Seattle in a game that started at 11:29 p.m. Jewasko, though, didn't mind the odd time. He had thrown a game in college at a similar hour.
"Some of us college guys, we like to stay out a little later anyways, it wasn't too tough," he said with a smile. "It was a little different definitely. You are used to day games and the 7 o'clock starts."
Jewasko worked around rallies in the first, fourth, sixth and seventh, but allowed the two unearned runs in the third. Seattle's Ryan DiMascio led off with a ground ball to third baseman Kelton Rule, who threw the ball in the dirt for an error. After an infield hit from Derek Jennings, Jett Hart bunted. Jewasko threw out Hart at first, while DiMascio ended for home. Larks first baseman Cam Brown threw wild to the plate, DiMascio scored and Jennings moved to third. He later scored on a wild pitch.
"We broke down obviously," Leo said. "You can't make back-to-back errors against a good team in the World Series, and we did that."
Offensively, Hays had several chances against right-hander Grady Wood, who threw 8 1/3 shutout innings. Wilson said Wood, who threw from a sidearm delivery and a tail on his pitches, had similar movement to Larks' closer Michael Burchett.
"Some of our right-handers didn't make an adjustment on that," Leo said. "If it's moving away, you get in on the plate and you stay back and go oppo(site field). I thought some of our lefties made some nice adjustments and they squared some balls up."
Hays put leadoff hitters on second base in the third and sixth, but neither of them scored in a disappointing loss.
"Bad at-bats with men in scoring position and in a 2-0 game, you look back at those things and something could have happened," Leo said. "I thought some of our guys squared the ball up very good. I thought we squared it up better than them, but that's not how this game works. It's a matter of who gets more runs on the board."