After getting up at 5 a.m. in the morning, flying into Wichita and driving to Hays, R.J. Williams had modest expectations for his first game as a Hays Lark since the summer of 2015.
But the shortstop was able to reacclimate to the Larks quickly, pounding out three hits with a triple in Hays' 10-6 win over the Colorado Cyclones on Tuesday at Larks Park.
"I wasn't expecting much, really," Williams said of his season debut. "I was kind of tired, but I just got up there and swung the bat and it worked out."
Williams, a native of Rockwell, Texas, just completed his senior season at UT-Arlington and had been looking for an opportunity to keep his career going when Larks' manager Frank Leo offered him a chance to join the team.
"(Leo) gave me a call and said they lost their shortstop (Kolby Robinson), so I was like, 'For sure, I'll come play,' " Williams said. "I hadn't played for about a month and a half since my season ended and I've been looking for somewhere to play."
Williams said he had fond memories of his 2015 season with the Larks and jumped at the chance to return to Hays to help the Larks finish out the season.
"It was a great time," Williams said. :A good atmosphere. I loved it. I'm glad to be back."
Williams singled in his second at-bat and had a two-run triple in the fourth to push the Larks' lead to 7-1. He singled again in the fifth and drew a walk in the seventh.
"It's a great opportunity to come out here and play," Williams said. "Any time I get the chance, I want to keep playing. I hope I can get picked up and play affiliated ball at some point, but right now I'm just happy to be here."
Williams said he's eager to help the Larks finish strong. Hays is 26-6 overall and sits in first place in the Jayhawk League at 26-6.
"Wherever they need me to play, I'm here to help," Williams said. "Like I told coach Leo, 'I'm just going to come here and help the team as much as I can and whereever you need me to play, I'll play. I'm just happy to be here.' "
Hays took control with three runs in the first inning on RBI doubles from Daryl Myers and Jacob Boston and an RBI single from Clayton Rasbeary. Easton Kirk drove in two more with a single in the second and Hays broke open a 10-1 lead with five runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Toby Scoles drew the start for the Larks, allowing two runs on on seven hits with four walks and five strikeouts in five innings to earn the win.
Devin Hager also had a three-hit game for the Larks and ended the game by charging a ground ball from third and making a bare-handed play to throw out the runner.
The Larks will return to Jayhawk League play by playing host to Dodge City at 7 p.m. tonight before continuing the homestand against Derby on Friday to begin a four-game series.