LIBERAL — The Hays Larks put together a complete game, fueled by a pair of three-hit performances, to earn an 11-1 victory and series sweep of the Liberal Bee Jays on Thursday in Liberal.
Hays (12-1, 8-1) scored a run in five consecutive innings, beginning with a two-run fourth that broke a scoreless tie. Four pitchers combined to allow just three Bee Jay hits on the evening.
The first four Larks reached base safely in the fourth, the third coming via an RBI single from Austin Bell. Jacob Boston followed suit to give the visitors a 2-0 lead after four.
Boston scored Josh Minjarez in the fifth, reaching via a fielder’s choice. Austin O’Brien made it a 4-0 lead in the sixth with a double that scored Connor Ross.
The Larks piled it on in the seventh, sending 12 batters to the plate. After two singles surrounded a walk, Jax Biggers scored Bell on a fielder’s choice with one out. Ross then reached base on a fielding error that would have served as the third out, allowing Boston to score. O’Brien and Mike Mioduszewski earned bases-loaded walks to bring home runners. Devlin Granberg and Bell also earned RBI singles in the inning, making for five two-out runs and a 10-0 lead after seven.
Liberal earned its lone run on a solo two-out homer in the seventh off Layne Downing, who replaced Alex Lopez to start the inning.
The Larks got the run back in the top of the eighth, finalizing the final score of 11-1. It serves as the second six-game winning streak of the season for Hays and back-to-back Jayhawk League sweeps, leaving the Larks atop the standings.
Lopez allowed just one hit and two walks in six innings of work on the mound.
O’Brien and Bell each recorded three hits on the night as the Larks collected 14 in total. Bell and Boston, the seven- and eight-hole hitters, each recorded two RBI.
The Larks return to action tonight for a three-game series against Bethany (Okla.) at 7 p.m. at Larks Park. The Larks will celebrate First Responders Night tonight.