HHS baseball finishes tourney 3-1
By AUSTIN COLBERT
Son of Tracey Colbert
Despite an 11-10 loss to Great Bend High School on Saturday, Salina Central's 3-2 win over Hays High School on Friday was enough for the Mustangs to win the 2014 Western Plains Diamond Classic.
But Hays High baseball coach Frank Leo believes his team left HHS field on Saturday feeling much better about themselves than Central after a 4-2 win over Goddard High School in the final game of the round-robin tournament, which was also senior day for the Indians.
"Yeah, we lost a tough game (Friday) night, but I thought we competed well. We came back and answered today and played a good, clean game," Leo said. "Coming into this tournament you want to gain momentum in close games. You want to learn how to win. You want to learn what your team can do, how much fight they got. We found all those answers out."
Hays High (12-6) and Salina Central (7-9) both finished the Classic with a 3-1 record, but the Indians had to settle for second place after Friday's loss to the Mustangs. While Central stumbled against Great Bend, the Indians got a good, complete-game performance from sophomore Marcus Altman on the mound in the seven-inning win over Goddard (5-13).
Altman earned his third win of the season (3-1) in four starts. He struck out four batters, walked three (one hit-by-pitch) and limited Goddard to only four hits.
Senior Maxie Mikle took the complete-game loss for Goddard, despite holding the Indians to five hits.
"It was a clean game. We got to play defense. Marcus is not a strikeout type pitcher, but he has a good off-speed pitch," Leo said. "I've said many times we are not a great offensive club, we've got to be an opportunistic one. And we were that in this tournament."
The Indians fell into a 2-0 hole after two innings, the first Lion run coming on an RBI-double from designated hitter Austin Noble. Noble would then score himself after getting to third on a passed ball and sacrifice hit by outfielder Josh Oakley.
Hays High got its first run in the bottom of the third inning, a sac-fly from senior Kade Parker to score pinch runner Jarrett Pfannenstiel. The Indians then added two more runs in the bottom of the fourth, a two-RBI double from sophomore Jared Haynes to give Hays High the 3-2 lead.
The fourth inning saw the Indians defense get into its tightest spot all game, when Altman walked Noble with just one out to load the bases for the Lions. But Altman answered by striking out Oakley during the next at-bat and senior catcher Brady Bieker helped pick off Noble at first base to end the inning without a run scored.
"Sometimes it's not all about offense. Yes, Jared Haynes had a big hit. We don't want to forget about that hit. It got us the lead," Leo said. "But if you are going to give a player of the game, you got to give it defensively to Brady Bieker. He blocked well. The backdoor pick with the bases loaded -- we work on that and he's good about it. He likes to do it."
The Indians got their final run in the bottom of the fifth inning when pinch runner Adam Klaus scored from third base on a wild pitch from Mikle.
Goddard threatened one final time in the top of the seventh, when the Lions had runners on first and second with one out. Senior Layne Downing got the second out on a tough throw from short stop to first base, advancing the other runners to second and third.
The game ended when a grounder by leadoff man Connor Kirby struck the runner at second base.
The Indians will wrap up their regular season on Tuesday with a doubleheader at Liberal. Should Hays High sweep the Redskins, it would be a third straight Western Athletic Conference crown for the Indians.
"It's a long bus ride, so we've got to overcome that bus ride and be ready to play in the first inning," Leo said. "We don't have a lot of time to prepare. We need rest now more than anything. We will get a light workout in on Monday and then get after it."