WICHITA — It took them nearly eight hours to get the job done — due in part to a pair of rain delays of about five total hours — but the Everett (Wash.) Merchants eventually ended the 2017 season for the Hays Larks.
Scoring a run in the ninth inning after a four-hour rain delay, the Merchants handed Hays a 10-9 defeat Saturday in the semifinals of the National Baseball Congress World Series at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
The win puts the Merchants (25-17) in Sunday night’s championship game of the 83rd annual event, while the Larks ended their season at 34-17, tying for third in the tourney for the third time in the last six years.
It was an up-and-down semifinal game from the start.
Larks starter Alex Lopez was roughed up for five runs in the top of the third inning and things looked bleak for the Larks early. But a rally in the bottom half eventually ended up in a 9-5 Hays lead by the fifth.
After Everett put up its five runs, two on a home run and three coming with two outs, Hays responded with six runs in the bottom half of the third.
Alex Weiss, who eventually was named the tourney’s most inspirational player, led off the inning with a double and Trey Ochoa reached on a one-out walk. Then Jonathan Soberanes reached on a single to load the bases and the chip-away and eventual go-ahead for Hays ensued. Jace Selsor drove in the first run. Jacob Boston drove in another and Soberanes scored on a sacrifice by Colin Simpson, followed by an RBI single by Nick Jones.
Then, the Larks took their first lead when Clayton Rasbeary hit a hard liner just past the second baseman to drive in a pair of runs.
Peyton Battenfield then replaced Lopez in the fourth, and the first lightning and rain delay slowed things up.
But it didn’t do much to slow the Larks. After the delay, Hays tacked on a run in the fourth on a single by Boston, then two more in the fifth. Jones scored on a wild pitch and Trey Ochoa drew a bases-loaded walk to put Hays up 9-5.
Meanwhile, Battenfield settled in for a decent relief appearance that lasted until the seventh. Battenfield walked two in the fifth, but worked out of it, then loaded the bases in the seventh, giving way to Kent Hasler. The Merchants put up one run, but Hasler got out of the inning with minimal damage done. But, Hasler then was roughed up for three runs that tied the game in the eighth inning. Then the long delay began as rain and lightning again rolled through the area.
Four hours later, the game resumed with the Larks having one out in the eighth and a runner on first base. Rasbeary, though, ground into a double play to end the threat.
Tyler Starks, who replaced Hasler to finish the eighth, gave up two singles in the ninth that allowed Everett to plate the go-ahead.
The Larks got two base runners in the bottom half as Trevor Boone was hit by a pitch and Soberanes reached on an infield single, but Selsor flew out to center field to end the game and the Larks’ season.