By RANDY GONZALES
The Hays Larks didn't let an early deficit stop them from taking over first place in the Jayhawk League.
Hays trailed by three runs after Dodge City's first at-bat, but rallied for an 11-5 win Tuesday night at Larks Park. Hays improved to 10-4 overall, 7-3 Jayhawk to take over first place in the league standings, a half-game in front of Derby.
Dodge City fell to 7-7, 2-7. The two teams will play again tonight in Dodge City.
In Tuesday's game, the Athletics got the benefit of a call at third base, helping Dodge City take the early lead.
With leadoff man Michael Sterling on second and one out, Dodge City batter Dale Anderson hit a grounder to Larks shortstop Elvin Rodriguez.
Instead of getting the sure out at first, Rodriguez tried for Sterling advancing to third. Sterling slid under the tag on a close play to put runners on the corners.
Vito Perna's fly ball to left would have been the third out, but instead it scored Sterling from third. Jordan Camp followed with the first of his two homers on the night to give the A's a 3-0 lead.
Hays answered with single runs in the first and second and added a three-run third to take the lead.
"They didn't panic," Hays manager Frank Leo said. "They know we've got chances one through nine.
"It's been a tough run for us," he added. "We've had some tough calls on the road this week. Come back home, have some more tough calls."
Hays center fielder Aaron Cornell -- who is hitting .422 to lead the team -- led off the bottom of the first with a single and eventually scored on MacKenzie Handel's sacrifice fly.
After Dodge City scored an unearned run in the top of the second, Larks newcomer Brandon Dixon -- playing in just his third game -- led off the bottom of the second with a home run off A's starter Luke Anderson to get within 4-2.
Cornell led off the third with a double, and after Handel walked with two outs Ethan Leiter followed with a three-run homer so far over the wall in left the Dodge City left fielder didn't bother to move, just watching the ball sail over his head.
Hays starter Tory Doerr left after five innings with a 5-4 lead, but Camp greeted reliever Jon Ryan with a leadoff homer in the sixth to tie the game.
Hays then blew the game open with four runs in the bottom of the sixth and two more in the seventh. Elvin Rodriguez and Sean Wilson hit RBI singles in the sixth, and Cornell hit a two-run single in the inning. In the seventh, one run scored on an error and the other on a wild pitch.
Ryan (1-0) picked up his first win of the summer. Former Hays High School pitcher Jesse Hart, a tall, side-arming right-hander, pitched two scoreless innings to finish up.
"Jesse gives us that other look," Leo said. "We went left, right, a side-arming right-hander -- a good combo tonight.
""He's got some great movement, he's got some long arms, long legs, has good control," Leo said of Hart. "Ball feels like it's right on top of you."
Cody Gougler went 4-for-5 for Hays, and Cornell had three hits, three runs scored and two RBIs in Hays' 18-hit attack.
"You got to rely on one through nine," Leo said. "You can't expect the middle of the order to do it every time."
Right-hander Hunter Herdt (0-0) is scheduled to make his second start for the Larks tonight at Dodge City. The Larks then return home to begin a six-game home stand with a 6 p.m. non-league doubleheader on Thursday against Colorado.