DODGE CITY — The Hays Larks dropped their first chance at clinching a berth to the National Baseball Congress World Series, falling 9-2 in a road contest against the Dodge City A’s on Tuesday.
The Larks (19-3, 15-3) left nine runners on base and gave up six two-out runs in the first game of a three-game series.
Hays left two runners on base in the first inning. Austin O’Brien scored after Devlin Granberg notched a third consecutive two-out single, though Nate Olinger grounded out to end the inning.
Dodge City struck for its first pair of two-out runs in the bottom half of the frame for a 2-1 lead that would remain with the A’s.
The A’s extended their lead in the fourth with a leadoff double, scoring on a single two pitches later.
Garrett McKinzie cut the deficit to a single run with a solo home run in the fifth inning, though it would serve as the final Lark run of the contest.
Starting pitcher Stephen Yancey gave up three singles and one run to start the fifth before being pulled for Ben Cilano. The next pitch resulted in a single, giving Yancey five earned runs in four-plus innings of work. He gave up 11 of Dodge City’s 17 hits and struck out four.
The Larks left the bases loaded in the sixth. Granberg and Jacob Boston fell victim to strikeouts while Josh Minjarez lined out the first pitch he saw. Dodge City took advantage with a four-run bottom half, two off a wild pitch and a passed ball. Hays stranded three runners over the final two innings.
O’Brien finished 3-for-4 with one run scored. Mike Mioduszewski was the only other Lark with multiple hits. The bottom-third of the order combined for six strikeouts.
The Larks and A’s move to Larks Park for Game 2 at 7 p.m. tonight.