Eagles move to 2-0, ready for tourney
By NICK McQUEEN
The 2014 Hays Legion Eagle baseball team’s roster features 13 players.
Still, the Eagles can go two deep at just about every position.
It’s a versatility Legion coach Brad Kelly believes will come in handy through a long summer stretch that includes several three- or four-day tournaments.
“That’s one of the good things about our team,” said Kelly, who has guided the Eagles to the last two state championships in Class AAA. “We’re versatile enough where we can really move guys around, and they’re really not too much out of position.”
Still, the Eagles have spent the first two games of the summer — including Wednesday’s 9-5 win against Russell at Indian Field — just finding what players work in what positions, and at what point in the lineup.
“I don’t really feel good about our overall performance,” Kelly said of Wednesday’s win, which pushed Hays to 2-0. “But some guys played well, and there were some others we might want to see a little more out of.”
The Eagles jump right into tournament play Friday with a pair of games in the Manhattan Tournament at Tointon Family Stadium. Hays plays Great Bend at 4:45 p.m., then Manhattan Manko at 7 p.m.
“It’s still early,” Kelly said. “We’re not to the point where we’re going to give up on a guy in a certain position or at a certain place in the lineup.”
Wednesday, the Eagles had three errors, but one big one that led to Russell taking a 3-1 lead after 1.5 innings. Russell scored two runs in the second on a walk by starter Layne Downing, who gave up no hits in his short two-inning night of work.
Another Eagle error led to a bases-loaded jam for Brady Bieker in the sixth with Hays clinging to a 4-3 lead after Cole Schumacher grounded out to drive in the go-ahead run in the fourth inning.
Hays made several position changes through the game. Connor Rule started the game at catcher and Zack Legleiter at third, and Parker in left. Schumacher came in to relieve Downing, who moved to short stop and Eagles newcomer Brandon Bollig moved to second. Jake Sedbrook also came in at catcher, moving Rule to third.
The Eagles have three guys capable of playing behind the plate in Sedbrook, Rule and Bieker, who caught a full season for Hays High School in the spring.
That could be a big factor “especially when it’s 100 degrees outside and we play in the middle of the day, then we turn around and play another game,” Kelly said.
Offensively, Hays put up 12 hits against a pair of Russell pitchers. Brandon Bachar, who pitched 24.2 innings this spring for Class 4A Division II third-place Russell/Victoria, gave up seven runs (five earned) on nine hits Wednesday with five walks and two strikeouts.
Schumacher picked up the win for Hays in three innings of relief. Bieker pitched the final four innings.
Downing was 3 for 5 for the Eagles with a run scored, and Marcus Altman scored three times, including when he slid under a tag at home plate in a rundown to tie the game in the fourth. Parker was 2 for 3 wtih an RBI and a run scored.
Bieker drove in a pair of runs with a double in the seventh inning, part of a four-run frame where the Eagles pulled away.
Eagle newcomer Kaden Rohr, from Russell, is slated to start one of the Eagles’ games Friday, Kelly said, while Parker likely would get the nod in the other.
Note — Brandon Bollig, the top pitcher for Class 2A state qualifier Ellis this spring, was scheduled to make a pitching appearance Wednesday for the Eagles, but was still suffering from a minor back strain suffered this spring. He played short and second base. He walked and scored a run in the nine-hole and drove in a run with a sacrifice in the second.
Hays Eagles 9, Russell 5
Russell 120 000 020 — 5 6 2
Hays 110 200 41x — 9 12 3
Bachar, Dinkel (7) and Rome; Downing, Schumacher (3), Bieker (6) and Rule, Sedbrook (5). W — Schumacher (1-0). L — Bachar. 2B — Bieker, Hays.