PRATT — The Hays Monarchs came back from a 5-3 deficit to pick up a 6-5 victory Thursday against Wellington in the elimination bracket of the Class AA Legion state tournament at the Green Sports Complex.
“It was good to come out and get a win,” Monarch coach Dustin Schumacher said. “I don’t think we played our best baseball by any means. At any rate, at this point in the season, it’s a win and advance kind of deal. So we will take whatever we can get.”
Ellis wasn’t so fortunate, falling 10-9 to Sabetha in the winners’ bracket in a see-saw battle. Ellis gave up two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to take the loss.
Ellis and Hays were set to play each other at approximately 12:30 p.m. in an elimination game.
The Monarchs received gifts in the first inning when their first two batters drew walks and a Braiden Werth single loaded the bases with no outs. Ryan Schippers drew a walk as well to score the game’s first run.
Shane Zimmerman and Pierce Schippers each brought in another run off sacrifice flies to give Hays a 3-0 lead after one inning.
“Their pitcher struggled with control and we had a golden opportunity to break something open that inning,” Schumacher said. “We got three runs but we really didn’t take advantage of what was available. So it was kind of disappointing, but at the same time it was good to get an early lead and use that.”
The score remained 3-0 until a disastrous third inning for Hays. After Zimmerman struck out the first two Wellington batters, he walked Parker Daugherty who then stole second, and eventually advanced to third on a defensive error by Jordan Gottschalk.
Austin Dunn followed with a double into left field, scoring Daugherty for the first of four runs to give Wellington a 4-3 lead.
The Wellington lead grew to 5-3 midway through the fourth.
Hays answered in the bottom of the fourth. A pair of singles and a wild pitch led to a quick Monarch run by Taylor Wasinger. Then Cameron Brin tripled into center field, scoring Kameron Schmidt to tie the game.
Two batters later, Werth grounded out to second base for the second out of the inning, but it was enough to allow Brin to score from third for what proved to be the game-deciding run.
The rest of the game was on the shoulders of the defense and Zimmerman, who no-hit the final nine Wellington batters. Zimmerman pitched the complete game for Hays, and recorded 10 strikeouts with only one earned run.
“He pitched really well,” Schumacher said of Zimmerman. “I know he gave up those four unearned runs in the third inning … but other than that, he was kind of the way he’s been all year. Just a guy you can hand the ball to and know you are going to get a good start out of him and give us a good chance to win.”