Eagles hit three homers in win
By CONOR NICHOLL
Hays Monarchs coach Dustin Schumacher came by the third-base dugout at Larks Park after Friday's single nine-inning game between the Monarchs and the Hays Eagles.
Hayden Hutchison was the lone Eagle player still in the dugout. Schumacher wore a smile when he offered Hutchison a compliment.
"Nice game today," Schumacher said. "I am glad I don't have to see you ever again."
In likely the last matchup between the Eagles and Monarchs this summer, Hutchison, a Neosho (Mo.) Community College signee, continued his torrid pace with another big game in a 9-6 Eagle victory.
He reached base all five times with a homer, double, two singles and once reaching on an error.
Hutchison also made two sterling plays in the field.
As well, Clayton Basgall finished 3 of 5 with a homer and triple and Chandler Rule also homered.
The Eagles moved to 13-11, while the Monarchs dropped to 7-6 in a game that lasted just two hours. Both teams will play in the Hays' Wild West Fest tournament next week, but will be in different pools and would only meet in the elimination rounds.
In the top of the first, Basgall led off with a homer on a 3-2 pitch from Monarch starter Shane Zimmerman that went well into the trees beyond the 349 sign in the left-center field gap.
"I had two strikes, I had to just keep my swing relaxed," Basgall said.
Two batters later, Hutchison, hitting over .500 this season and in the mix to break multiple single season Legion records, homered to the opposite field in right-center.
The ball hopped over the levee behind the wall. Monarch ace Shane Zimmerman worked seven efficient innings, but allowed nine runs, including Rule's blast to left, a two-run shot, in the fifth.
"I thought he threw well," Schumacher said. "His velocity was good. It was a launching pad out here tonight. For them it was anyway.
"We don't have the power like they do. But for them, I knew it was going to be that way just watching them hit BP, and in the warmups, the way the ball was carrying, I knew that there was going to be some possibilities for some home runs by them."
The Monarchs haven't been at full strength since the season opener against the Eagles. Left fielder Kameron Schmidt has a back injury that has bothered him since the spring season.
The junior legion played Friday as well. Schumacher was going to move a player up to replace Schmidt, but the juniors would have had just eight players because of some people involved with harvest.
Schmidt had problems running and finished 0 of 2 with a RBI on a squeeze bunt.
Schumacher said Schmidt "shouldn't have been playing." Ryan Schippers, the team's best power threat, was gone on a family trip.
"Hats off to him to coming out and giving us whatever he had," Schumacher said. "... He has got so much pain in his back, he can't swing it. He couldn't even run very well out there in left. That hurt us, but we are not going to make excuses about that. That's how it goes. We had nine guys, and we competed."
The Monarchs tied the game with two runs in the bottom of the first on three singles, a hit by pitch and a walk.
However, Hutchison helped curtail the threat on a single from Braiden Werth. Hutchison, playing shortstop, cut the play early and threw behind Werth at first. Rule was on the bag and tagged out Werth. He made another nice player on a slow grounder and quick throw later in the game.
"The play is never over," Hutchison said. "You can always arm fake, pump fake, back pick, catch people off your guard like that. He rounded first a little bit too hard and luckily Chan was there, just got him real quick for a big out. A little baseball saavy that I've picked up on over the years."
Werth was also picked off at first in the seventh, and the Monarchs made two errors.
"We are stil young, so we make some boneheaded mistakes," Schumacher said. "Those get exposed when you play better teams."
The Monarchs led 6-2 after three innings, but Cam Klaus relieved struggling starter Kade Parker in the third and coaxed the last out. Klaus, who also earned the win Tuesday against Dodge City in relief, worked seven scoreless outs Friday and earned another win.
Klaus is 2-1 with 6.1 shutout relief innings this week.
"His pitch count was pretty low on Tuesday," coach Brad Kelly said.
"He ended up not throwing a whole lot of pitches. He ended up having some quick innings.
"Just when we played catch before we got going here, I asked him how he felt , and he felt good. Really, we used him more than what we thought we would just because Kade was struggling."
The Eagles scored three runs in the fourth, including the RBI triple by Basgall, two in the fifth and one in the sixth and seventh.
Just like Tuesday, Basgall closed the game in the ninth for his second save.
"I can just go in there, and I don't have to hold anything back," Basgall said. "(Kelly) said I might just do that right now until we get to tournaments just to get an inning in."