Junior Eagles headed to state
By CONOR NICHOLL
Hays Junior Legion baseball coach Tyler Treinen said the 2012 season ended in a "heart breaker." The Eagles lost 3-2 to Salina in extra innings and took third at the Class A state tournament.
"We were hitting balls as hard as possible, just right to people for about five or six innings, we just couldn't get that guy in," Treinen, in his second year as head coach, said. "I said, 'This year, the plan is to win it all.'"
On Tuesday, the Eagles again qualified for the state tournament with a 15-3 victory against Dodge City at Larks Park. State is next week in Burlington.
"I have guys from that team last year, and they know how hard it was losing that game, especially since we split a lot of games with Salina over the year, we put ourselves in a really good position to win it all last year," Treinen said.
The game featured 12 errors, including eight by Dodge City, and was called after six innings because of the run rule. Trenton Henningsen threw a no-hitter, but the Eagles tallied four errors. Dodge City also spread eight walks over the game and Henningsen walked just one.
"You have to give a no-hitter credit where credit is due," Treinen said. "We joked about it, because it might have been one of the more odd no-hitters we have ever seen."
Hays went 3-0 at zone and bumped to 23-16 this summer. Treinen said the team went through "a lot of growing pains" early in the season, but started to round into form in the first home tournament June 22-23. Entering the tournament, Hays had lost four in a row and opponents had outscored the Eagles 43-18.
"We had a pretty rough four, five doubleheaders and we weren't playing very clean baseball, but after that, we had a couple of really good practices," Treinen said. "I started seeing a lot better effort and guys were starting to buy into things a lot more, and believe in each other a lot better."
Then, Hays went 4-1 in the tournament and permitted just seven runs in the four victories. After the home tournament, the Eagles went 3-1 at the North Platte, Neb. tournament and then finished second at the Wild West Fest tournament before starting zone play. The Eagles, in a zone with Garden City and Dodge City, won the three games by a combined score of 37-10.
"The kids have really bought into everything and they have came together today as a team, kind of had to familiarize themselves with everyone a little bit, playing together again," he said. "It's been a really good season. We turned it around halfway through and started playing really good ball. We started pitching better and things started really clicking."
Hays features a strong lineup. Nearly the entire roster is from Hays, but left fielder and No. 2 hitter Andrew Jay comes from La Crosse. Every regular carries a .290 or higher average and six players are above .375 or better. On Tuesday, the Eagles scored three runs in the first and second, two apiece in the fourth and fifth and five in the sixth.
"Up and down, I think it's the most balanced lineup I have seen in a long time with how much speed we have at the top and bottom of the lineup and how many guys, 3 through 7, that we have that can really drive guys in," Treinen said. "It's really nice, because when we get guys on base, we've scored a ton of runs this season with two outs, and we have scored a lot of runs this summer with runners in scoring position."