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Hays High baseball splits with Dodge

By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

When the Hays High School baseball team has played Dodge City recently, runs have come at a premium, but typically, the Indians have found ways to grind out victories.

On Tuesday, Hays High struggled to find any type of offense outside of senior Hayden Hutchison, and split its doubleheader with Dodge City (1-1, 1-1 Western Athletic Conference) at Larks Park.

Hays High won 3-1 in Game 1 and lost 3-0 in Game 2, ending a 21-game WAC winning streak.

The Indians (3-1, 1-1 WAC) had five total hits in the doubleheader, and Hutchison had three of them. It was the opposite of Hays High's doubleheader Thursday at Pratt when the Indians scored 26 runs in 10 combined innings.

"Everybody went flat, and we can't have that," said Hays High head coach Frank Leo. "We went down to Pratt, and the pitching wasn't near as good as it was today, but we put better swings on it. Today, we didn't have good swings. Those things are going to happen, but you don't want eight guys (doing that)."

As a team, Hays High hit .114 in the doubleheader.

"We've been limited hitting with the weather, but it's still no excuse to have less than three or four hits a game," Hutchison said. "It's pretty embarrassing to be honest."

Hays High has done tremendous pitching and defensively against Dodge City the past three seasons. Prior to the Game 2, HHS had allowed three runs to Dodge City in 42 innings dating back to 2011.

Hutchison kept that tradition alive in Game 1.

Hutchison (2-0) started on the mound and allowed an unearned run on two hits and no walks while striking out five.

He said he was pleased with his day, but believes he still has room for improvement.

"I thought I spotted up pretty well, but other than that, I need to work on my off speeds," Hutchison said.

Hutchison led his squad at the plate in Game 1, hitting 3 of 3 with two doubles. His double in the third inning drove in two runs, and his double in the sixth put him in a position to score on a wild pitch later in the inning.

Outside of Hutchison, senior designated hitter Ryan Engel was the only Indian to record a hit, and it came in the sixth inning with two outs.

In Game 2, Hays High senior first baseman Chandler Rule had the lone hit for his squad as Dodge City pitched around Hutchison.

"Too many fly-ball outs and too many strikeouts," Leo said regarding his team's struggles at the plate. "That's the easiest defense in the book."

Hays High junior pitcher Kade Parker (0-1) lasted four innings and surrendered all three runs, two earned, on five hits and no walks while striking out six.

Junior Layne Downing relieved him in the fifth and pitched well, recording three hitless innings with just one walk and two strikeouts, but the offense wasn't able to support him.

It wasn't just offensive struggles that plagued Hays High either. The Indians had two errors in each game, and once an Indian base runner got tagged out because he wasn't standing on the bag at second.

"Nobody was ready to play," Leo said. "Our energy level was low today. There's no excuse for that."

After going undefeated in the WAC the past two seasons, a 1-1 start almost seems foreign.

It's the worst start Hays High has had in its league since 2008, but all might not be lost.

After all, that year, Hays High won its next six games and earned a share of the league title.

"Hopefully, we can bounce back and work our butts off the next few weeks to come back strong in our next WAC game," Hutchison said.