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Indians belt out pair of wins

By BRETT MARSHALL

Special to The Hays Daily News

GARDEN CITY -- It's been a cold, cold spring for the Hays High School baseball team, but there was no doubt Tuesday night the Indians' were red-hot. Hays High pounded out 15-7 and 10-7 victories against the Garden City Buffaloes in Western Athletic Conference action at Clint Lightner Stadium.

With the temperature hovering in the mid-40s and the wind blowing at 15-17 mph and gusting to 24 miles-per-hour, the games were every bit as difficult as one could imagine.

Arguably playing some of their best ball of the season, the Indians got off to a start that could easily be described as heartwarming, as they scored three runs in the first, six runs in the second and two in the third before adding a single tally in the fourth. At that point, GCHS pitcher Edgar Montoya and his Buffs were wondering if they would get run-ruled as they had in 2012 at Hays.

"We had the game comfortably in hand, but let them back in the door," HHS coach Frank Leo said. "We didn't do those things that got us off to the good start -- throwing strikes and playing good defense. But we did compete at the end and that's always something you like to see."

Layne Downing was the biggest offensive star in the opener, as he belted a pair of home runs, both to right field with the aid of a 15-20 mph wind out of the northeast. Those accounted for four runs, three coming with his first blast in the second and a solo shot to lead off the fourth.

With the Indians cruising along, Leo inserted reliever Brady Bieker to replace starter Marcus Altman, who appeared to have some stiffness in his throwing shoulder.

Bieker wasn't effective, though, getting saddled with all six runs by the Buffs as they also connected for five hits.

"We started great, played really well and we stayed in the middle of the field," Leo said. "We didn't finish it as well as we'd like. We back-doored our way into a win."

Altman picked up his third win of the year without a loss as the Indians improved to 8-2 overall and 3-1 in the WAC after rallying in the nightcap for the three-run triumph.

The Indians finished with 12 hits, committing just one error despite battling the bone-chilling temperature and blustering conditions that kept the wind chill in the mid-30s.

"We knew coming in, the weather would be a tough deal," Leo said. "We just told the kids to focus, play hard and we were able to do that for the most part."

Downing relieved Bieker in the fourth, and finished off the Buffs by going two and two-thirds innings. He gave up a solo home run to Thomas Solorio, but recorded three strikeouts and issued two walks.

In the night cap, Garden City jumped out to an early 4-0 lead through three innings, thanks in part to a couple of fielding miscues by the HHS defense.

Hays finally got on the board with a single run in the fourth before another round of hot-hitting put them back in control.

In the fifth, the Indians finally got to starter Logan Dechant for the nine runs on six hits, but the Buffs helped out with a pair of fielding miscues of their own.

"It was a big inning," Leo said. "That's a good trademark, the ability to come back. We used a lot of energy out there today."

The Indians, after the slow start, finished with eight hits, but booted the ball five times. Perhaps it was due to the cold temps.

And as miserable as the weather has been, the Indians have persevered through en route to their 8-2 record.

"We knew it would be cold and that there was no makeup date," Leo said. "We haven't had a good day of weather yet, but we've had some good days on the field."