WICHITA — From the moment he began warming up, Hays Larks' pitcher Tyler Blomster was feeling eager and confident for his National Baseball Congress World Series debut.
And some early offense from the Larks only added to his comfort level.
Hays built a quick lead and continued to tack on insurance while Blomster turned in a strong outing on the mound as the Larks opened pool play with a 7-2 win over the Clarinda (Iowa) A's in championship week of the NBC World Series on Friday night at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
“I felt really good in the bullpen (before the game) location wise,” Blomster said. “My stuff was working pretty good. I wanted to get off to a good start and throw some zeroes up early and then just let my defense work, get some ground balls later on, try to get through innings and just go as long as I could.”
Blomster, a 6-foot-7 right hander from Colorado School of Mines, went 6.2 innings, allowing one run on six hits while striking out seven. He kept the A’s off the board for the first six innings before surrendering a run in the top of the seventh on an infield chopper.
"He was outstanding," Larks manager Frank Leo said. "He took us deep into that game, pounded the zone and kept them off stride."
Four Larks had multi-hit games, led by 3-for-5 outings from Easton Kirk and Wyatt Divis. Hays had four extra-base hits, including Nic Gaddis’ first homer of the year, a two-run shot that extended the Larks’ lead to 7-1 in the bottom of the seventh.
The Jayhawk League champion Larks, showing no rust after nine days in between games, struck early after Ryne Randle led off the game with a double and was brought home by a single from Divis.
"First game of the tournament, you want to try and jump out to a lead," Leo said. "Ryne did a good job of getting us in scoring position. At least getting one on the board in the first was big."
The Larks (35-10) added two more in the the third when Jacob Boston tripled after the ball skidded away from the diving left fielder. R.J. Williams had an RBI single in the fourth and John Rensel Jr. singled in another run in the fifth before Gaddis belted a homer to left field in the seventh.
"It's a lot less pressure on me if we're throwing up runs every inning," Blomster said. "It's a lot of fun to come out and watch these guys hit the ball like they do. It was a great night. Easton Kirk did a great job and Nic Gaddis' home run was big."
Blomster said he enjoyed the experience of pitching in the NBC World Series for the first time.
"It was pretty sweet," he said. "We had a pretty good crowd with all the Hays Larks' fans coming out and supporting me and the team and everything. That was a lot of fun, just the atmosphere and how important the games are."
Carlos Tavera went 1.1 innings in relief, giving up a run and one hit. He came in with two runners on in the seventh but got a strikeout to keep the Larks' lead at 5-1. Shane Browning closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.
"(Blomster) passed the baton to Carlos Tavera, who did an outstanding job," Leo said. "They got the little chopper up the middle to get a run in, and then Carlos has the leadoff hitter (Reid Bonner), probably, I think, their best hitter on the ball club. He beat him with a curve ball in a heck of a battle."
Sean Bergeron took the loss for the A's, allowing five runs (two earned) in 4.1 innings.
The Larks, who share a pool with Clarinda, the Wellington Heat and San Diego Stars, will return to action at 7 p.m. on Sunday against Wellington.
The Heat, a former Jayhawk League member, beat the Stars 7-4 on Friday.
“In pool play, it’s big (to start off with a win),” Leo said. “You’ve got to try and win at least two, and if you win three, you know you’re going to advance to the bracket play. Getting behind the 8-ball in game one would have made it kind of tough.”