With a little help from the El Dorado Broncos, the Hays Larks clinched the Jayhawk League title late Saturday night.
The Larks entered the night needing a win against Great Bend or one loss from Dodge City in a doubleheader against El Dorado to clinch the league championship.
Hays fell 7-4 to Great Bend at Larks Park, but the Larks officially clinched the title about an hour and a half later when El Dorado beat Dodge City 11-2 to split the twin bill.
The Larks, 24-8 in the league, wrapped up the title with four league games left to play. It is the Larks’ 10th league title in program history.
Hays, 32-9 overall, missed out a chance to celebrate the league title with a win in front of the home crowd. They were hurt by an uncharacteristically sloppy outing defensively, committing four errors against Great Bend.
Larks’ starting pitcher Fabian Muniz also had a rare off night on the mound, giving up seven runs (three earned) on 11 hits in seven innings of work. He fell to 5-1 on the season.
Hays scored first in the bottom of the second on an RBI single from Ryne Randle. The Bat Cats, aided by two Larks’ errors, took control with four runs in the top of the fourth.
Great Bend tacked on three more in the top of the eighth to push the lead to 7-1, but the Larks answered with three in the bottom of the inning. Easton Kirk hit a two-run home run and Clayton Rasbeary had an RBI single.
The Larks had the tying run at the plate with one out in the bottom of the ninth before back-to-back flyouts ended the game.
The Larks will play at Great Bend on Sunday before returning home as league champs on Monday to open a three-game series with Liberal.