By RANDY GONZALES
The Hays Larks were victimized again by their struggling bullpen, letting a four-run lead slip away Tuesday night at Larks Park.
After his team's 6-5 loss to Liberal, Hays manager Frank Leo sat with pitching coach Keith Harper in a corner of the dugout, perhaps pondering the what-ifs of another game the Larks let slip away.
"The old menace has caught us again," Leo said of his bullpen, which surrendered a pair of two-run homers. "Kids hit bombs like that, that's not very effective. Just the way we go. We go to the bullpen, we don't know what's going to happen.
"Sometimes they've been effective," he added. "Most of the times, they haven't."
In Hays' last 10 losses, the bullpen has been charged with 57 runs. Liberal, meanwhile, got 32βΡ3 innings of scoreless relief Tuesday, with one reliever getting the victory and another earning a save.
Leo said getting a runner thrown out at the plate might have hurt Hays' chances for a big inning in the sixth. Brian Martin led off with a single but was thrown out at home on Cam Brown's double. If Martin scores, Hays leads 5-4 and has a runner in scoring position with nobody out.
Brown did score on Cody Gougler's one-out single, but Gougler was left stranded on second after a steal when Liberal got the next two hitters to end the threat.
"Had a tough call at home plate that maybe took some wind out of our sail there," Leo said. "But that's the game of baseball."
Heck of a play
Andrew Heck, who pitches, plays infield and outfield and also is one of the team's top hitters, made a play worthy of SportsCenter in the third inning. The Larks right fielder raced into the corner to make a diving catch to rob Liberal shortstop Kelby Tomlinson of extra bases with runners on first and second.
Good guys wear green
On Military Appreciation Night, Larks coaches wore green shirts which said the team supported the troops. Flags were flying throughout the park, and Korean War veteran Bob Maxwell sang the national anthem and led the fans in singing "God Bless America" in the seventh inning.
Before the game, military veterans and active military personnel gathered in the infield, with World War II veterans announced to the crowd.