By The Hays Daily News
PITTSBURG -- The Hays Eagles Senior Legion baseball team began its quest for a third straight state title by defeating Salina 6-4 on Wednesday in the first round of the Class AAA state tournament in Pittsburg.
The win advances Hays (31-8) into the winner's bracket of the eight-team, double-elimination tournament. The Eagles will play Newton, which defeated Dodge City 15-5 in Wednesday's first-round game, today at 5 p.m.
Layne Downing earned the win on the mound for Hays against Salina, improving to 10-0 on the summer. He allowed nine hits and four runs with four strikeouts in 8.2 innings. Kade Parker earned his second save of the summer by getting the final out of the game via a groundout.
All four of Salina's runs came in the top of the second inning after neither team scored in the first, aided by three fielding errors by the Eagles. Hays scored its first run in the bottom of the third inning when Jared Haynes scored from third on a wild pitch.
Trailing 4-1 entering the bottom of the sixth, Hays rallied to score five runs on four hits and take a 6-4 lead. The inning was highlighted by a two-RBI triple from Zack Legleiter.
Downing and Parker combined to allow only one Salina hit during the final three innings, a harmless single in the eighth. However, a pair of walks and a fielder's choice led to the Falcons loading the bases with two outs in the ninth trailing by two runs, only to groundout to Parker for the final out.
Downing led the way on offense, going 3 for 5 with an RBI. Legleiter led the Eagles with two RBI, going 2 for 5 with a run scored.