Hays High rallies for sweep against Salina South
By NICK McQUEEN
While the Hays High School baseball roster boasts 10 seniors, only a handful of its players had previous varsity experience before this season.
Eight games in, Indian coach Frank Leo admitted he's still getting to know this club -- and its potential.
Friday at Larks Park, he found out one thing. This club doesn't quit.
Hays High rallied twice, erasing a two-run deficit in extra innings for a 4-3 (10 innings) win in Game 1, and then after falling in a 2-0 hole, rallied for a 3-2 win against Salina South in the nightcap.
"We're going to have fight," Leo said. "I've had veteran teams that I knew were going to have the fight. I'm still learning about this ball club.
"There are some young guys that haven't played at this level," he added.
Still, Hays High moved to 6-2, and twice knocked off a Cougar team that had just one loss coming in. Salina South fell to 5-3.
"I learned this team can fight. That's the big thing," Leo said. "Offensively, we've been up and down, and I wonder about our pitching staff."
Both sides' pitching was solid Friday. Hays High senior Hayden Hutchison and Salina South junior Zach Nachbar worked to a 1-1 tie after regulation in Game 1, and both made it into the ninth before being pulled.
Salina South took a 3-1 lead in the ninth. South's first batter reached on an error by Indian junior first baseman Layne Downing, and eventually scored a go-ahead run on an RBI-single by senior Logan Meis. South's other run came on a fielders' choice RBI with one out on a failed double-play attempt. Hutchison handed the ball to freshman Cole Schumacher with two outs in the inning after a walk.
Schumacher (1-0), facing a 2-run deficit, got a fly out to end the inning and eventually earned the win.
Nachbar, who who walked just one batter through the first eight innings, walked Downing to start Hays High's ninth before being relieved by senior Blake Loe. Loe walked Indian junior Kade Parker, then gave up a bunt single to senior Jake Sedbrook load the bases.
"They gave us a little bit of daylight, and we took advantage of that," Leo said. "For a young club, and a club that hasn't been through the varsity ropes a lot, I was pretty impressed with what they did in Game 1."
The bottom of the order, senior Chance Pitcock and freshman Marcus Altman each recorded an RBI to tie the game. In the 10th, senior Chandler Rule recorded a one-out double, and with two outs, Sedbrook again came through, forcing an error at shortstop for the game-winning run in Rule's courtesy runner, senior Spencer Greathouse.
"You're going to take the win -- great ball game," Leo said. "Both sides played well, and that's a good ball club."
Game 2 was just as good of a pitching battle between the Indians' Parker and Cougar senior Robert James. Each allowed two runs in the third inning, as Salina South struck first. Sedbrook had an errant throw on a strikeout by South sophomore Cole Hoover, who eventually came around to score on a two-RBI double for senior Conner Ryan.
"He gave up the two-spot, but he settled in and minimized," Leo said of Parker, who moved to 1-1. "Once we got the lead, he made sure we kept it."
Hays High tied things up with RBIs from Rule and Parker, then took the lead on an RBI groundout by Sedbrook in the fifth. James hit three batters in the inning to load the bases, but appeared to have Sedbrook in a 4-3 double play. Hutchison was coming home and umpires ruled South senior second baseman Logan Driscoll missed the tag on Parker at second before the double-play attempt.
Parker held the lead by striking out four throw the next two innings with one walk. He ended the game with eight strikeouts.
"(Parker) had a decent game against Dodge, but today he had command of his off-speed pitch, and he had them out in front," Leo said. "We needed a big pitching performance there, and he gave it to us."
Hays High is in action again at 4 p.m. Tuesday in a doubleheader at Garden City.
... Hutchison gave up three runs (zero earned) through 8.2 innings with four strikeouts and two walks. He is 2-0 and has yet to allow an earned run in three starts. ... Schumacher struck out one in picking up his first win. ... Pitcock was 2-for-4 in the opener with a run scored and an RBI. ... In the nightcap, Parker gave up one earned run to 27 batters with two walks and three hits. ...Parker led the Indian offense with two hits and an RBI. Pitcock also had a pair of hits. There are some things we need to improve, no doubt about it.