By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

Earlier in the season, if the Larks fell behind big early, it was essentially game over, said Hays manager Frank Leo.

In Saturday night's game against Jayhawk League leader El Dorado, Hays gave up a seven-run third inning, fought back to tie the game, only to fall behind again in a 9-8 loss at Larks Park.

"Great effort on our guys' part," Leo said. "I'm proud the way we answered after we gave them a seven-spot."

El Dorado (14-5 overall, 11-5 Jayhawk) took advantage of wildness by Hays starter Kurt Wunderlich to take a 7-0 lead in the third inning. Wunderlich issued four walks and gave up four hits in the inning, along with a Hays error.

"When you walk guys, you've got to make plays defensively," Leo said. "Rare for Wunderlich to do that."

Hays (8-8, 5-7) got six runs back against El Dorado starter Jake Sabol in the bottom of the third. Three straight singles to start the inning loaded the bases for Codi Harshman, whose grounder to first baseman Graham Tyler was thrown away to let two runs in.

One out later, Jason Morriss doubled into the right-field corner for two more runs. Designated hitter Kyle Peterson followed by hitting the first pitch he saw over the wall in left for a two-run homer to make it 7-6.

The Larks tied it at 7 in the fourth against reliever Sam Lewis, who got the win for the Broncos. Andrew Heck walked with one out and scored on Harshman's double.

The Broncos scored two runs in the sixth off reliever Andy Lewton (0-1), with the help of three Larks errors in the inning.

Hays got a run back in the seventh on Rafael Valenzuela's homer off Andrew Steinmetz to make it 9-8.

Broncos right-hander Nick Ward worked around a two-out hit batter in the ninth to pick up the save.

The two teams are scheduled for a 7 p.m. game today at Larks Park in the finale of the four-game series. Kenny Toves (0-0) is scheduled to make his second start for Hays.

Friday

Hays 4, El Dorado 2

Hays rallied for a run in the seventh and two in the eighth to beat El Dorado on Friday night.

Peterson singled, doubled and homered with three RBIs for the Larks. Calvin Lewis (2-0) picked up the win in relief.