Frank Leo didn’t feel his Hays High baseball team played anywhere near its potential for most of game one in Friday’s doubleheader against Dodge City.
And yet, the longtime Indian coach couldn’t have been more encouraged by what transpired in the final half inning of that contest.
On the brink of suffering its first loss, Hays rallied from a four-run deficit in the seventh inning to notch an 8-7 victory after Justice Dotts delivered a two-run walkoff single with the bases loaded and two outs.
The Indians then rolled to a 17-3 run-rule win in game two at Indian Field, moving to 11-0 overall and 5-0 in Western Athletic Conference play.
Dodge (6-4) nearly ended Hays High’s win streak before it hit double digits, taking a 7-3 lead into the bottom of the seventh in the first game. But the Indians rallied behind three hits, three walks and a hit batter.
“We didn’t play anywhere close to our capabilities in game one — defensively, offensively, pitching-wise,” Leo said. “But what a sign — to be down the way we were, not playing a good game and come back and win. That’s a sign of a very competitive ball club.”
With Hays trailing by a run and down to its last out, Dotts blooped a 2-1 pitch into left field, scoring Trey Riggs and Dominic Bainter to win it.
“I was just trying to find a hole and it ended up happening,” Dotts said.
Willie Sennett led off the bottom of the seventh with a single before Cody Petersen drew a walk and Palmer Hutchison was hit by a pitch to load the bases. After a pitching change, Trey Riggs drove in a run with a single to cut the deficit to 7-4.
Brock Lummus then drew a bases-loaded walk before the Red Demons got back-to-back outs. Bainter beat out a potential game-ending double-play grounder to make it 7-6. Josh Haynes walked to load the bases before Dotts came through with the game-winning hit.
“In all our at-bats, we weren’t chasing,” Leo said. “We knew we had to get runners on base. One swing wasn’t going to win it, and our guys understood that. We drew some walks, put some pressure on. Anytime you put pressure on that pitcher and on the defense and get men on base, things start tightening up a little bit and it’s a little tougher to throw strikes.”
Petersen hit a two-run homer in the first inning of the first game while Dylan Dreiling had an inside-the-park home run in the sixth inning to cut the Red Demons’ lead to 7-3.
The Indians trailed 3-1 in the second game before Trey Riggs’ 3-run triple put the Indians in front 5-3 in the bottom of the second.
Hays forced the run rule in the fifth inning after putting up eight runs in the third inning and four more in the fourth.
Riggs went 3 for 3 at the plate in game two with two doubles and four runs driven in while Hutchison added two hits including a triple.
“I think we had some big at-bats with two strikes, two outs,” Leo said. “A lot of our runs in (the third) inning were with two outs. We made some adjustments, didn’t try to hit the long ball and just made it happen.”
“We got back to who we actually are the second game,” Dotts said. “We were just more relaxed and having more fun.”
Hutchison tossed game one, earning a no-decision after allowing five runs (four earned) with five hits and two walks in five innings. He notched 10 strikeouts. Bainter allowed two runs in the sixth before Chance Murphy tossed a scoreless seventh inning to pick up the win.
Cody Petersen took the win in game two. He went 3.1 innings, allowing three runs on four hits with six walks and three strikeouts. Drieling finished out the game on the mound.
The Indians will play a single game at Great Bend at 4 p.m. Thursday.