Blowout sweep for Hays Eagles
By CONOR NICHOLL
The Hays Legion roster features several players back from last year's state championship squad. The top four hitters, second baseman Clayton Basgall, center fielder Dan Bittel, shortstop Hayden Hutchison and first baseman Chandler Rule, have all signed to play college baseball. Hutchison collected all-state honors this spring for Hays High School. Plus, the Eagles have several other players who were full-time varsity starters in the spring.
Great Bend has five players out of a 16-person roster that have played varsity baseball. Just two were full-time starters in the spring. The Chiefs don't have a Junior Legion this summer, so have combined Legion and Junior Legion.
The talent gap was on display as Hays rolled to a 20-0 victory in three innings and an 8-0 victory in five innings. The doubleheader combined to last 2 hours, 40 minutes. Hays moved to 7-6 and Great Bend dropped to 0-6.
"We have some guys that have experience, and we have got some guys that are back from last year's team," Hays coach Brad Kelly said. "So baseball is one of those funny games that you never know what is going to happen. If you face a team that is swinging it well one day, anything can happen. We did a good job pitching strikes and luckily, they hit into a lot of outs for us."
Great Bend started five freshmen in Game 1 and used four pitchers.
"We are taking some lumps at times, but I think in the long run, it is going to be a good thing for us," Great Bend coach Michael Stettinger said.
Brady Bieker earned the win for the Eagles and Hays tallied eight runs in the first and 12 in the second.
"Brady is a guy we are looking forward to some really good things from him next year even in the high school season and even in the summer season next year," Kelly said.
The Eagles had their first 13 baserunners reach base in the second inning without an out. Overall, Great Bend walked nine batters. Basgall reached base all four times and went 3 of 4 with four runs scored and two RBI. In the second inning, Basgall hit a line drive that would have went for extra bases, but Kelly held him at first base as Hays played station-to-station once the game got out of hand.
"We have been pretty consistent on the mound," Kelly said. "I think our defense has let us down in a couple of key spots in games where we had leads or where we were tied up and we didn't make some plays where we had an opportunity to make some plays. Offensively, over the last three games, we have swung it pretty well, but up until then, we had six guys that were hitting under .250 on the year."
In Game 2, Rule threw a complete game. Hays scored five in the first and three in the second. Bittel went 2 of 2 with a walk and two runs scored. He was the lone Eagle to reach base every plate appearance.
"Some of those guys have brought those batting averages up over the last few games," Kelly said.
"That's the main difference. Last year, we had guys who could hit the ball one through nine. This year, so far, it has been a little bit of a struggle. But the tide has kind of been turning, so hopefully, we keep going in the right direction."