Larks blow by Dodge, now 8-0
By AUSTIN COLBERT
First-year Hays Lark Nate Olinger couldn't help but produce a chuckle when asked about his batting average following Hays' 11-1 romp of visiting Dodge City (1-6, 0-5 Jayhawk League) on Tuesday at Larks Park, Hays' Jayhawk League home opener.
Olinger, a sophomore from Colorado School of Mines and the Larks' No. 2 batter, entered Tuesday's game with a .143 average (six games) and only three hits in 21 at-bats. But those are just numbers, none of which are worth worrying about for the young lefthander.
"Coach (Frank Leo) is all about situational hitting here," Olinger said. "Ground balls to get guys over. Sac-flies. So I might not be getting the biggest average, but I've been having good (at-bats), hitting balls hard. So hopefully they will fall here in a little bit."
Olinger, who led the NCAA Division II Orediggers (24-23) with a .364 average in the spring, produced just one hit in five at-bats against Dodge City on Tuesday, but it was his one hit that eventually helped the Larks to run away from the A's.
Facing fellow lefty Dylan Morris on the mound for Dodge City in the fifth inning, Olinger knocked a shot into left field with the bases loaded, resulting in a two-RBI double, his first extra-base hit with the Larks. That opened the door for Ty Detmer's two-RBI double during the next at-bat and Derek Birginske's RBI-single right after, part of a six-run inning for Hays.
"That two strike at-bat, left on left, was picture perfect. He stayed under control, he went with the pitch away, and gets a two-RBI base hit to left field," Leo said of Olinger. "I see some good things out of him. He's a good player. He is very athletic. He will do some good things for us offensively before the season's over."
Prior to the fifth inning, the Larks had scored one run in each of the first four innings, although they had left six combined runners on base. This came after Dodge City took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, Brad Jarreau scored after his walk, eventually coming in on a sacrifice fly by Dalton Thomas.
"We wasted a few opportunities early," Leo said. "It was nice to see us break through and get that big hit. These guys, they take a pitcher deep into the count and wear a pitcher down. They wait for a mistake pitch. I'm still very impressed with what we do on offense."
The Larks outhit the A's 14-1, Dodge City's only hit a harmless single by Thomas in the fifth inning. It was the first batter faced by Craig Larkin, who had just taken the place of Larks' starter David Koll. Koll, a Bradley product, earned his first win in five innings. He gave up no hits and the lone first-inning run while striking out three batters.
The Larks had a big offensive outing from numerous players, led by the four RBIs for Detmer (2 for 2 with three runs and two walks). Birginske was 3 for 4 with two RBI and Kevin Czarnecki, a Fort Hays State University product, was 3 for 4 with one run and one RBI.
Tuesday's win improves the Larks to 8-0, 5-0 in the Jayhawk League. They will play the second of six straight home games, played over six days, today at 7 p.m. against Liberal (5-3, 1-3). Olinger (1-0) is expected to get his first start on the mound for Hays, although he has appeared in two games as a reliever, and hasn't given up an earned run in six innings.
"We are rolling right now and to get it at home is just going to propel us even more," Olinger said of Tuesday's conference win. "We nitpicked at them and got one in the first four and then that big hit was huge. We kept rolling at that point and our pitching was good enough to shut it down the rest of the night."
Notes -- Starting second baseman Zair Koeiman, a junior from Wichita State University, appeared to have hurt is groin on a routine single in the fourth inning and was replaced for the remainder of the game by Lawrence native and Youngstown State athlete Shane Willoughby. The extent of the injury was unknown to the coaching staff at the conclusion of the game. ... Aaron Cornell, a product of Oklahoma State University and three-year Lark, will be set to join Hays on Friday for a fourth season after the Cowboys were eliminated in the NCAA Super Regionals by California-Irvine.
Hays 11, Dodge City 1
Dodge City (1-6, 0-5) 100 000 000 -- 1 1 0
Hays (8-0, 5-0) 111 160 10x -- 11 14 0
Ray, Norris (4), English (5), Harjo (8) and Albert; Koll, Larkin (6), Pickett (9) and Carr (9). W -- Koll (1-0). L -- Ray. 2B -- Burns, Detmer, Birginske, Langley, Hays.