HHS bounces back for win
By KLINT SPILLER
After suffering a disappointing 9-4 loss to rival Great Bend in Thursday's nightcap of the Western Diamond Classic, Hays High School's baseball team responded with a resounding 8-0 victory against Salina Central.
The victory Friday at Indian Field was a significant one and kept Hays High (11-4) in title contention at 2-1 in tourney play.
"We just tried to capitalize off that loss last night," said junior outfielder Kade Parker. "Coach said if we are real players and if we had pride, we'd come back out and fight for another win."
Hays High used small ball to go up early and gain some confidence. From then on, the Indians got better and better at the plate, finishing 10 of 27 after a slow 0 for 6 start.
There was a significant change in Hays High's lineup going from Thursday night to Friday. The Indians got back standout senior Hayden Hutchison, who sat out both games Thursday for disciplinary reasons.
Hutchison started at pitcher and hit third in the order. He didn't disappoint on either end of the spectrum.
Offensively, Hutchison hit 2 of 3 with a double and two RBIs, and on the mound, he shut Salina Central out for seven innings and struck out seven.
"There was just more of a confident look," said Hays High coach Frank Leo. "Hutch gave us that confident look with the way he was dealing on the mound."
Hutchison, who hasn't allowed an earned run all season, allowed six hits and a walk, but didn't allow them to reach home.
"He's masterful," Leo said. "You don't have to throw 85. You've got to locate, you've got to have off-speed and Hayden had that all day today."
However, Hutchison's support system did its job. Hays High finished with no errors and made several fantastic plays, including a sliding catch by senior Daniel Bittel in center field and a double play late in the game.
"This is probably one of our best defensive games all year, especially with Hutch pitching the way he did," Parker said.
Hays High didn't get on the scoreboard until the third inning.
Senior leadoff hitter Chance Pitcock got walked, and Bittel laid down a sacrifice bunt — his second of the contest — to get Pitcock to second.
From there, Hutchison brought him home with a double. Two batters later, Parker squeezed Hutchison in with a bunt.
"Our bunt game was on, and it was really successful today," Leo said.
Hays High added another run in the fifth when Hutchison drove in Bittel with a single, but the game didn't get out of hand until the bottom of the sixth inning.
The Indians exploded for five hits, which included a pair of doubles, and scored five runs to put Salina Central in an 8-0 hole heading into the top of the seventh.
Hays High senior outfielder/third baseman Zack Legleiter sat out for a second consecutive start with back issues. He missed time earlier in the year with the same injury. He missed the start Thursday's against Great Bend, but came back later in the game.
Leo said he's unsure when he will return, but he expressed confidence with the lineup he had on the field Friday.
"We are still looking for the right combination," he said. "Maybe we found it. Let them do it another game for us and a game after that. We've got a few more games we can work that combination and keep getting after it."
Around the Diamond Classic
In the noon game, Goddard defeated Great Bend, 6-0, but then Salina Central knocked off Goddard, 3-1. Then in the evening game at Larks Park, Great Bend survived a Colby rally and won 14-9.
Goddard will head into the final day of the Diamond Classic with a 1-1 tourney record. Hays High, Great Bend and Salina Central are at 2-1, and Colby sits at 0-3.
On Saturday, for Hays High to win the tournament, the Indians will have to defeat Goddard, and Salina Central will have to prevail against Great Bend.
Hays High 8, Salina Central 0
Salina Central 000 000 0 — 0 6 3
Hays High 002 015 X — 8 10 0
Hopkins, Earley (6) and Brightbill; Hutchison and Sedbrook. W — Hutchison. L — Hopkins. 2B — Earley, Salina Central; Bittel, Hutchison, Niernberger, Hays High.