Split for Hays Monarchs
By CONOR NICHOLL
Hays Monarchs coach Dustin Schumacher can usually tell in pregame if his team is going to be flat.
Schumacher didn't sense that before Wednesday's home doubleheader against Great Bend. However, the Monarchs delivered a lackluster performance in a split against a struggling Great Bend program at Larks Park.
Hays came back to win the first game, 8-7, in 12 innings, then lost the second contest, 10-3, in five innings. Because of time, the coaches agreed to play just five innings in the second contest.
"That's the million dollar question," Schumacher said of the struggles. "I don't know. Uninterested and not plugged in, not focused. A lot of things. Disappointing, especially with it being our last doubleheader. We had been playing good baseball going in the last couple of weeks. No excuse for the way we played."
Hays moved to 14-12 in the final tuneup before Class AA Zone play starts Sunday in Lincoln. Game time is not determined, but the Monarchs will play in the same zone as Lincoln, Hoisington and Smith Center. The Monarchs were state runner-up last summer.
"It's obviously very winnable, but as we have shown over the summer, we can beat anybody and we can lose to anybody and our focus isn't there," Schumacher said.
"Regardless of who we are playing, our margin for error is usually very small. We need to come dialed into play, if we hope to get through there and get back to state."
Great Bend improved to 12-26 and ended a 13-game losing streak.
"It's kind of like the first game of the season again," Great Bend coach Michael Stettinger said. "It's just good to take the pressure off the kids, the coaching staff, the parents, the town, just the entire program, it's a great feeling and unfortunately, we have had some heartbreakers the last couple of weeks. Games we probably should have won, but we came out ,and we did the things that we needed to get it done tonight."
Game 1 featured a combined 29 hits, 16 from Great Bend, and seven errors, including five from the Monarchs. The game saw several controversial calls, and, at one point, the home plate umpire sharply told some fans to calm down. Great Bend scored three runs in the first, two in the fourth and two in the fifth. Hays tallied two runs in the second, two in the third and three in the fourth.
"On our end, and TMP at the same time, just sloppy defensive play by both teams," Stettinger said. "We both had opportunities to score runs at times and we didn't take advantage of them. That's really what it came down to."
The Monarchs committed two errors apiece in the fourth and fifth that led to runs, including a dropped flyball. No one scored until Monarchs' Jordan Gottschalk won the game in the 12th with a single. Gottschalk finished 3 of 6 with a double in Game 1 and 0 of 2 with a walk and a run scored in the second contest. Taylor Rome pitched the first seven innings and Cameron Brin (5-1) collected the victory with five shutout innings.
"He has been hitting the ball well lately, but, overall, we are just so inconsistent," Schumacher said. "We just know game to game. It's why we keep our lineup always different from game to game, because we can't figure it out."