Tyler Blomster recovered nicely from a shaky first inning and the Hays Larks reeled off 14 unanswered runs to open their final Jayhawk League series of the summer with a 14-2 rout of Liberal on Monday night at Larks Park.
Blomster gave up two runs in the first but bounced back to throw six straight scoreless innings while the Larks supported him at the plate by pounding out 14 hits.
The Larks, who already have the Jayhawk League title wrapped up, improved to 34-9 overall and 26-8 in league play. They have two more games at home against Liberal on Tuesday and Wednesday before turning focus to championship week of the National Baseball Congress World Series next week in Wichita.
“I’m happy with where we’re at right now," Larks' manager Frank Leo said. "We’ve got two more games together here at home before we take the show on the road to Wichita. It’s a fun bunch, I’ve said it all summer long.”
Blomster, a 6-foot-7 right hander from Colorado School of Mines, gave up four hits including a leadoff triple in the first inning but worked out of some jams to keep the Bee Jays off the board the rest of the night. He gave up six hits with two walks and struck out eight.
“Very gutsy,” Leo said of Blomster’s outing. “We’ve played a lot of games in a row and we don’t have a lot of bullpen. He had to take us a little deep.”
The Larks answered the Bee Jays with three runs in the bottom of the first, including a two-run home run by R.J. Williams to knot it at 2.
“R.J. Williams’ home run was big,” Leo said. “(The Bee Jays) were sky high. We had a big crowd tonight. They knew it was a Host Family Night for us and they wanted to spoil our party. R.J.’s home run kind of quieted them down and then we kept adding it on.”
Hays took control with four runs in the third inning. Ryne Randle lined a single off the pitcher's mound to bring in a run, Daryl Myers scored on a wild pitch and Wyatt Divis brought in two more runs with a single.
The Larks tacked on three runs in the fifth, another in the sixth and three more in the eighth. Divis homered in the eighth and also tossed two scoreless innings to close it out.
Randle had a game-high three hits, while Divis, Easton Kirk, Nic Gaddis and Matt Munoz each had two.
The Larks, who clinched the league title this past Saturday, have been a model of consistency, going the whole summer so far without losing back-to-back games.
“At some point in the summer you’re going to hit a little bit of a funk with the kind of schedule we have,” Leo said. “I attribute not hitting a skid to the depth we have. We were able to get guys some rest and we don’t miss a beat when we put somebody else in. This is a very talented, deep club, and that had to be part of our success.”
Game 2 of the series is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday at Larks Park.
“Our fans are still coming out to watch us play and see good baseball and see a championship club that won another league title,” Leo said. “We want to continue to do that the next two nights.”