Mikey Gangwish provided the fireworks for the Hays Larks’ Independence Day game against the Great Bend Bat Cats on Tuesday at Larks Park.
The catcher’s three-run homer in the sixth inning proved to be the difference, as the Larks moved to 18-8 and 18-7 in the Jayhawk League with a 5-2 win. Gangwish’s homer to right-center made it 5-1 before Larks starter Peyton Battenfield surrendered his second run of the day in the top of the seventh.
Battenfield rebounded with a scoreless eighth before handing off to Parker Schkade to start the ninth. Schkade failed to record an out after an error put the first man on and consecutive singles loaded the bases.
Closer Tyler Starks entered with the bases loaded and no outs and put out the fire with three consecutive strikeouts for his fifth save of the summer.
Battenfield earned the win after tossing eight innings of two-run ball. He scattered nine hits and struck out nine with no walks. After giving up a run in the first, Battenfield posed five straight scoreless innings.
The Larks tied things at one in the third when Trey Ochoa stole second and scored on an error by the Great Bend shortstop.
The hosts moved in front for good in the fifth on a fielder’s choice off Clayton Harp’s bat that scored Jacob Boston.
Gangwish provided additional separation with his three-run shot an inning later.
The Larks won the opener despite Great Bend owning an 11-7 advantage in hits and a 2-1 edge in errors.
Clayton Rasbeary was the only Lark to have a multi-hit game.
The two teams are scheduled to play the second game of the series at 7 p.m. tonight in Great Bend.