By The Hays Daily News
Following their fifth straight win, the Hays Larks are alone in first place in the Jayhawk League. Jumping out to a 5-0 lead with a first-inning grand slam from Ryan Busboom, the Larks disposed of Liberal, 10-3 Sunday at Larks Park. Hays (23-10, 17-10 Jayhawk) now sits a half game in front of the Dodge City Athletics. Hays and Dodge play today at 7 p.m. at Larks Park.
Busboom's homer in the first inning came with one out and the Larks leading 1-0, and was part of a five-RBI night for the Fort Hays State University product. Blake Johnston made his second start of the summer and first since early June, and pitched seven innings. Johnston allowed three runs (one earned) on five hits, with three strikeouts to two walks.
Johnston is 3-0 with a 2.28 earned-run average in 11 appearances (23.2 innings).
Ryan Mas finished the game, surrendering three hits in two innings of scoreless relief. Liberal (23-12, 16-12) scored all three of its runs in the third inning. The Bee Jays sit alone in third place in the league. Dodge City is 16-10 in league play.
The Larks collected 14 hits on the night with Mackenzie Handel going 3 for 4 with an RBI in the Larks' three-run seventh.
He also scored two runs, while Austin Darby extended his hit streak to 15 games, going 1 for 3 with a pair of runs scored. Darby is hitting .420 in 119 at-bats for the Larks with a team-leading 12 doubles.
Hays is 3-2 against Dodge City this summer with two of the wins coming in Hays, the most recent a 5-0 victory Thursday at Larks Park. Both losses to Dodge have been within two runs, and both were away from Larks Park. Hays has not lost since a 4-2 road defeat July 6 against Haysville, and plays five of the remaining seven games on its home turf.