GREAT BEND — The Hays Sr. Eagles Legion baseball team has work left to do in order to punch a ticket to state.

The Eagles opened Class AAA Zone play with a 4-0 win over the Great Bend Chiefs, but then came up short in the Zone title game with a 6-1 loss to the Salina Falcons on Tuesday at the Great Bend Sports Complex.

Hays (31-5-1) will play a rematch with the Chiefs at 6 p.m. today in Great Bend with a spot in the AAA State Tournament in Emporia on the line.

The Eagles were plagued by a rough fifth inning against Salina, spotting the Falcons (27-2) four runs while committing three errors in the frame.

Hays couldn’t take advantage of a strong start from Cole Murphy on the mound. He allowed just four hits in 5.2 innings and all four runs he gave up were unearned.

“He was an absolute warrior out there. Threw a heckuva game,” Eagles coach Dustin Schumacher said of Murphy. “In the fifth inning we did just not support him whatsoever. We gave them six outs, and you just can’t do that. They’re a really good team and they made us pay.”

In the fifth, Salina got their leadoff hitter on after the first Eagles' error, and then got a bloop single by Seth Catania. Murphy notched a one-out strikeout but then hit a batter to load the bases.

The Falcons tied it up at 1 on Zach Farmer’s RBI groundout to first before taking control after the Eagles couldn’t make a play on a fly ball in the outfield. The miscue scored two runs and was compounded by a throwing error that brought in another run to put the Falcons up 4-1.

The Eagles also struggled at the plate against Salina pitcher Richard Davis. Hays scored their lone rune in the bottom of the fourth when Murphy doubled down the left-field line to plate Jamison Martin, but the Eagles missed out on a chance to do more damage when the Falcons turned a double play to end the inning.

“We had opportunities to score early in the game and didn’t execute,” Schumacher said. “The game stayed tight. We did get that one run but then they came right back around and scored four. That just put us in a big hole and we didn’t really respond very well after that.”

Cody Petersen carried the Eagles in the first game against Great Bend, striking out nine and giving up just five hits in a complete-game shutout.

With Hays protecting a 2-0 lead, the Chiefs had runners on third and second with one out before Petersen ended the threat with back-to-back strikeouts. He then worked a scoreless seventh to finish the game at 99 pitches.

“He threw the ball really well the first game,” Schumacher said. “Did a great job and gave us a chance. Offensively we were a little sluggish. We had a lot of opportunities there and didn’t execute. Sometimes it’s a little bit tougher to execute when you get to the postseason.”

Hays struck first against Great Bend on Willie Sennett’s RBI single in the first inning. Trey Riggs drove in a run in the fifth and the Eagles added two more insurance runs in the sixth after Martin scored off a Chiefs’ error and Murphy came home after a double-steal attempt.

Schumacher said he’s looking for a cleaner game from the Eagles in the rematch against Great Bend today.

“Hopefully we got those jitters out of the way," he said. "We’ll have Trey on the mound and we’re hoping for good things out of him.”