GREAT BEND — A season full of tremendous highs was on the verge of abruptly ending on a low note for the Hays Eagles.
With a state berth on the line, the Great Bend Chiefs had Hays in a 4-1 hole and were three outs away from ending the Eagles' season in the Class AAA Zone Legion Tournament on Wednesday at Great Bend Sports Complex.
Sensing the dejection, Eagles coach Dustin Schumacher huddled up the team before the bottom of the seventh.
"We looked kind of dead in the water," Schumacher said. "No momentum whatsoever. I just challenged them and said, 'There's three outs left in your season. It can be what you make of it.' "
Five clutch hits later, the Eagles were celebrating a new highlight of the summer.
Brock Lummus and Brady Kreuzter came through with triples to help fuel the comeback and Trey Riggs ended the game with a walkoff hit as the Eagles rallied from the three-run deficit to edge Great Bend 5-4 and keep their season alive.
The Eagles (32-5-1) will advance to the AAA State Tournament on July 25-29 in Emporia.
"It's a huge relief," Lummus said. "If we would have ended it now, I don't know what I would do, because I love playing with these guys. It would have really sucked if we lost right here."
Jamison Martin helped get the rally started with a hit to left field and Cole Murphy followed with an infield single before Lummus sent the Eagles' dugout into a frenzy by scoring Martin and Murphy with a triple to right center.
"I knew I was in a big spot there," Lummus said. "Jamison and Cole got on. All I wanted to do was put a ball in play and see if I could score them.
"It was a fastball outside. I knew I had to drive it the opposite way. I ended up doing that and got me a triple out of it."
The Chiefs then sent Brady Kaiser to the mound to replace starter Colin Hall, who kept the Eagles at bay for six innings. Kaiser got the first batter he faced but Kreutzer laced one over the center fielder's head for another triple to tie the game.
After two intentional walks to load the bases, Riggs dropped one deep to left field to score Kreutzer and end the game.
Schumacher credited each of the five Eagles that came through with hits in the seventh.
"It really started with Jamison getting on, and then Cole's ball found a hole," Schumacher said. "Brock hit the ball well all day. Hitting that triple, that just kind of lifted a huge weight off our shoulders because we had a runner in scoring position with no outs.
"Then Brady hits another triple and Trey finishes it. Great job at the plate that inning."
Hays grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third off a Great Bend error, but the Chiefs (21-13) took control with three runs in the top of the fifth. Alex Schremmer drove in two runs with a single and the Chiefs extended the lead off a passed ball.
Great Bend tacked on another run in the top of the seventh off an Eagles' error to take a three-run lead.
Riggs went five innings on the mound, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits with three walks and three strikeouts. Palmer Hutchison didn't allow a hit but gave up one unearned run in two innings of work for the Eagles.
Lummus finished with three hits while Kreutzer and Martin each had two.
The Eagles went 2-1 in the Zone Tournament. They also beat Great Bend 4-0 on Tuesday before falling 6-1 to the Zone champion Salina Falcons.
Schumacher said it would have been a shame to see the Eagles' season end in heartbreaking fashion.
"Especially here, playing Great Bend. You don't want to lose to your rival," he said. "Especially in a game like this. It's happened to Hays plenty of times over the years where Great Bend sneaks up on us and ends a season for us.
"It was looking like that for a while, but just a resilient group. We're never out of it with our offense and they showed it there."