Dodge roughs up Larks in blowout
By AUSTIN COLBERT
Hays Larks pitcher David Koll, a junior from Bradley University, had a bad game on Tuesday against visiting Dodge City. Larks' manager Frank Leo wasn't about to sugarcoat how terrible the pitching was in the team's 12-1 loss at Larks Park, and was equally disappointed by just about every other facet of their play.
"When you don't pitch it, a lot of bad things happen. And Koll didn't get us off to a good start," Leo said. "But defensively we weren't sharp, either. Yeah, Koll didn't get us off to the right start, but we make a couple of plays and maybe we cut the runs down a little bit. But it was not a good night."
Koll (2-1) took the loss, allowing seven hits and eight runs through just 2.2 innings. The defense didn't do him any favors, either, committing three errors before Koll was replaced in the third by Craig Larkin.
The first error came during the A's first at-bat, a dropped foul ball by Larks' third baseman Kevin Czarnecki on a Brad Jarreau pop up.
It proved costly as Jarreau used his second chance to double and a few batters later become the game's first run.
Leading 4-0 entering the bottom of the second inning, the A's essentially gift-wrapped the Larks' only run. After being struck by a pitch, Larks' right fielder Aaron Cornell advanced to second on a balk and later stole third. Cooper Langley's RBI single scored Cornell, one of the few signs of life out of the Larks' offense all night.
"It's hard telling how good their arms were against us today, when you are down that much," Leo said. "And it's not the first time it's happened to us. It gets a little frustrating on our end."
Koll gave up four more runs in the top of the third before Larkin stepped in with the Larks trailing 8-1. Larkin held steady until giving up a run in the fifth, and was replaced by Nate Olinger to begin the sixth. Olinger went two innings, allowing the game's final three runs.
Dodge City led 12-1 after six innings, a score that would hold the remainder of the game.
Matt Ray earned the win for the A's, holding the Larks to five hits and one run in five innings on the mound.
The Larks dropped to 10-8 overall, 7-8 in Jayhawk League play, a far cry from the team that started the season by winning nine of its first 10 games. Dodge City moved to 9-10 overall and 4-10 in league play.
"It is frustrating because this program is built on winning. The people in this community expect us to win and that's exactly what I told this team after the ball game," Leo said.
" 'I didn't bring you here to lose. We brought you here to win and put a winning product on the field. And somehow we got to find a way.' I don't know when that day is going to come, but we've got to play a solid ball game and we haven't played a complete solid ball game for a while."
Leo said he didn't want to "make any excuses" about the reason for the team's recent string of losses, but admits the numerous injuries and roster changes have hindered the team's ability to win ball games.
The Larks lost Gabe Pickett, Connor Sjolander and Tyler Kapp this week after all three returned home because of injuries. Zair Koeiman, who has missed time with a pulled groin, made his limited return to the field on Tuesday by striking out in the game's final at-bat.
The Larks also were without Derek Birginkse, who had to leave for a non-injury reason, but is expected to return on Saturday when the team faces El Dorado. Leo hopes to have Shane Willoughby, who has been out with a ligament sprain in his upper leg, back on the practice field later this week.
"If we have a full bullpen Koll is not going to go that far. We stay in the game and maybe our hitters play better; maybe we play better defense," Leo said.
"I don't have a crystal ball to predict that. But usually that equates to playing better. When you get behind hitters you throw a lot of balls; you walk guys. The defense isn't crisp, ready to make plays. It's just a bad combination right now that we need to get fixed."
The Larks and Dodge City will go at it again tonight, this time in Dodge City. Game time is 7 p.m. at Cavalier Field.
Dodge City 12, Hays 1
Dodge(9-10, 4-10) 224 013 000 - 12 13 0
Hays (10-8, 7-8) 010 000 000 -- 1 7 3
Ray, Gunderson (6) and Albert; Koll, Larkin (3), Olinger (6), Landon (8), Carr (9) and Detmer. W -- Ray. L -- Koll (2-1). 2B -- Jarreau, Thomas (2), Phillips, Dodge. HR -- Albert, Dodge.