A game after putting on a prolific display at the plate, the Hays Larks struggled to find clutch hits against the Dodge City A’s on Monday at Larks Park.
Hays had traffic on the base paths but couldn’t cash in, falling 6-2 to the A’s to end a three-game win streak.
Two days earlier, the Larks pounded out 26 hits and four home runs during a 26-1 win over the Derby Twins on Saturday.
“Unfortunately, scoring runs, it’s not like banking,” Larks manager Frank Leo said. “You can’t save those runs for a rainy day. Each game’s a new day and tip your hat to Dodge today. They had the better of us today.”
The Larks (15-5, 9-4 Jayhawk League) left 11 runners on base and left the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth, unable to cut into Dodge's 5-2 lead.
The A’s got a solid start from Brady Rodriguez, who went five innings, allowing five hits and one run with four strikeouts and two walks.
“We needed a big hit but we couldn’t get it,” Leo said. “When that happens you’ve got to tip your hat to their pitcher. He made the pitches.”
The A’s did nearly all their damage with two outs in the bottom of the third with four straight run-scoring hits. Conner Van Cleave, Jake Cruce and Owen Jansen had RBI singles before Jordan Vujovich drove in two with a double.
It was the only difficult inning for Larks pitcher Tyler Blomster, who gave up five runs on six hits while striking out six in five innings of work.
“They barreled some balls,” Leo said. “Tyler struggled a little bit with his breaking pitch that inning. He had a good breaking pitch going into it. He left his fast ball over the middle. They had a lot of left-hand hitters and they barreled it up.
“You can’t mistakes. These are good college hitters and it was a tough inning. You take that inning away, he pitched very good. Unfortunately, they put a five-spot up. We could have minimized that inning a little bit, maybe held it to three and might have had a chance.”
The Larks got on the board in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI groundout from Devin Hager that scored John Rensel.
Hays’ other run came on an inside-the-park home run by Scott Wolverton in the seventh after Dodge City center fielder Kyle Cullen crashed into the wall while tracking a ball to left center. The ball was jarred loose on impact and Cullen was shaken up on the play but remained in the game.
Ryan Ruder tossed a scoreless inning in the sixth for the Larks and Toby Scoles didn’t give up a run in 1.2 innings of work. Shane Browning finished out the game, allowing one unearned run.
Rensel and Ryne Randle each had two hits for the Larks.
The Larks will be off Tuesday before traveling to Dodge City for a 7:30 p.m. game Wednesday.