Hays holds off Ellis to advance in Pratt
By AUSTIN COLBERT
PRATT — The heat was miserable, the game was long and the play wasn’t exactly pretty. This made it difficult for Hays Monarchs coach Dustin Schumacher to find too many positives in the team’s 6-5 win against Ellis on Friday at the Green Sports Complex
“The whole thing was a grinder,” Schumacher said. “No flow to it whatsoever. The game took two hours but it felt like it took three and a half. There weren’t any clean innings.
The win, though, advanced the Monarchs (20-14) to Friday night's Class AA Kansas State Legion championship quarterfinals against Rock Creek. Ellis ended its season at 20-9.
The game saw six combined errors, more than a few wild pitches, and a run scored without a hit even occurring in the inning.
Ellis looked especially depleted at times, coming off the team’s dramatic seventh-inning loss to Sabetha late Thursday.
“They seemed pretty fired up but last night’s heartbreaker just kind of drained us,” Ellis coach Casey McCoy said. “You get down here toward the end and it’s win or go home, so you pull all your pitchers out and I think both of us probably used everything we had.”
Hays got things going in the first inning when Taylor Rome scored from third on a play that also saw an error at first base on a poor throw from the shortstop.
Ellis came back in the bottom of the first and managed to get its first three batters on base. Then Cadyn McCoy hit a line drive into the glove of the third baseman, who turned it into a double pay with a quick tag of Scott Pfeifer. Nathan Frame singled right after to load the bases again for
Ellis, but a Koltyn Ratliff fly out ended the inning without a run.
“Those first two inning I know we had two runners on each time and again a couple of times later in the game,” McCoy said. “I don’t know if we weren’t aggressive enough or what, but we just could get the break.”
Hays found itself in a similar situation in the third inning after Shane Zimmerman was walked to load the bases with no outs. Three batters later the inning ended with the score still 1-0.
The Monarchs added two runs in the top of the fourth, but left three more runners stranded. Ellis got its first run off a Scott Pfeifer single in the bottom of the fourth to make it 3-1.
Trailing 5-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth, Ellis made it a game. Frame got on base after a high throw from third to first, and advanced to second moments later after a wild pitch from Rome, Hays' starter.
Ratliff singled to left to score Frame, the first of three Ellis runs in the inning.
Another Hays run in the sixth made it 6-4 in favor of the Monarchs. Ellis didn’t muster much offense that inning — not a single hit — but that didn’t stop them from adding a run. After Frame drew a walk, he stole second and then third after the second baseman couldn’t handle the throw from the plate.
A wild pitch then allowed Frame to walk in for the run.
“We have a lot of kids that are going to be juniors next year that haven’t played this caliber of baseball until this year,” Schumacher said. “So we are still learning. We are learning through our mistakes, unfortunately.”
Hays tried to one up Ellis in the seventh when it ended the inning with no runs and no hits but still left three runners on base. Two got on via back-to-back fielding errors and the third after getting hit by a pitch.
Despite this, Ellis only trailed by a run heading into its final at-bats.
“This team doesn’t give up,” McCoy said. “They play until the seventh inning. We’ve won a lot of close ball games here late in the season. I didn’t think it was over until the umpire said it was.”
After the first two Ellis batters got out, Scott Pfeifer recorded a single, followed by a fielding error that allowed Brandon Bollig to also reach base, giving Ellis a chance to tie the game. A wild pitch followed, moving both runners, but the game ended when Cole Pfeifer struck out on the next at-bat.
“It was a good victory to come out and get today,” Schumacher said. “Now we are going to relax and get out of this heat.”
Hays and Rock Creek will play at approx. 8:30 p.m., following the conclusion of Iola and Sabetha at 6 p.m. The loser of that game will play the winner of Hays and Rock Creek Saturday at noon.