HHS baseball sweeps Great Bend
By NICK McQUEEN
Hays High School baseball coach Frank Leo has all but accepted the fact his Indian team this season isn't going to be a tremendous hitting club.
If the Indians continue to do what they have on the mound, they won't need much.
Still, Friday's opener of a doubleheader sweep of Western Athletic Conference foe Great Bend at Indian Field was arguably the best game the Indians have played this season -- top to bottom.
"Excellent game," Leo said. "We did all the little things offensively, played good defense, and (senior Layne Downing) made pitches when he had to."
Hays High won 6-1 behind a complete game from Downing (four hits, one unearned run, seven strikeouts, three walks), then won 5-0 in the nightcap behind a complete game from senior left-hander Kade Parker (three hits, four strikeouts, no walks).
"That's just a pretty good 1-2 punch we've got," Leo said.
In Game 1, Hays High (9-5 overall, 5-1 WAC) put up two runs in the second inning to break the scoreless tie. Sophomore Dalton Stout led off the inning with a double, followed by back-to-back RBI doubles by sophomore Trenton Henningsen and Downing.
"Nice to get the sweep -- finally finding our hitting," Downing said. "That was a big part for us today."
Downing, who at one point this season was batting .125, has raised that average to .275 with 10 RBIs.
"Just changing little things," Downing said of his improvement. "The Pratt (doubleheader) was when I really started to feel like it was coming back."
He added an RBI-double in the fifth that put HHS up 5-1.
"We're not a big-time hitting ball club, but today we had two-out hits," Leo said. "Guys produced when they had to. That's important. We didn't have a ton of hits, but we got key hits when we needed them."
Sophomore Marcus Altman finished 2 for 4 in the opener with two RBI singles.
In the nightcap, the Indians scored all their runs in the first inning, and all were unearned as Great Bend (6-6) had two defensive miscues that led to all five. Henningsen and Downing had Hays High's two RBIs on two of the team's six hits. Altman added a double in the second inning, and finished 2 for 4.
Parker did the rest. He scattered his three hits, and never saw a Great Bend baserunner pass first.
"We ran the bases well, and got ourselves in scoring position. We're going to have to continue to do that," Leo said. "We'll ride those two senior arms, and (sophomore Cole Schumacher) and Altman are coming on behind them."
Downing, despite carrying a 0.59 earned-run average, is 2-3 with the win. He started 0-3 in tough-luck fashion, but has given up one run (unearned) in his last two complete games.
"I wasn't too down on it," Downing said of the start to the season. "I know that's stuff that's not going to happen every time. I knew we would figur it out, defense would be there."
Hays High will have its first tournament test this week when it plays host to the Western Plains Diamond Classic at Indian Field. The tourney (four games for each team) runs Thursday through Saturday, a test for the Indians' top four pitchers, three of whom -- Parker, Schumacher, and Downing -- are all under a 0.59 ERA.
"That's what this tournament is all about," Leo said. "You need four arms, you can't go with two."
Hays High 6, Great Bend 1
Great Bend (6-5) 000 010 0 -- 1 4 1
Hays High (8-5) 020 211 x -- 6 11 0
Beck, Wondra (6) and Maneth; Downing and Bieker. W -- Downing (2-3). L -- Beck. 2B -- Hillman, Great Bend; Parker, Stout, Henningsen, Downing (2), Hays High.
Hays High 5, Great Bend 0
Great Bend (6-6) 000 000 0 -- 0 3 2
Hays High (9-5) 500 000 x -- 5 6 0
Hall and Maneth; Parker and Bieker. W -- Parker (3-1). L -- Hall. 2B -- Altman, Henningsen, Hays High.