Pitching and defense has been the strength of the Hays High baseball team all season long and Thursday was no different.
The Indians opened the Western Plains Diamond Classic at Indian Field with two wins, edging Manhattan 1-0 in the first game before closing the day with a 6-3 victory over Great Bend.
In the first game, Trey Riggs posted his second straight complete-game shutout on the mound and Brock Lummus accounted for the lone run with a homer to right field in the fourth inning. The Indians’ defense helped keep Manhattan off the board by making several tough plays.
Hays High moved to 15-1 on the season.
“Our saying is that defense wins championships,” said Lummus, a junior catcher for the Indians. “Hitting will come eventually, but good defense will give us motivation and help us hit and we'll win games.”
Freshman centerfielder Dylan Dreiling came up with the defensive highlight of the day to preserve the Indians’ win against Manhattan. With a runner on second and one out, Dreiling made a diving catch and doubled off the Manhattan runner at second base to end the game.
“It’s just awareness of how important that ball that was hit means to the game,” Leo said. “He got a great jump on it, and when you get that close you’re not going to stop. Big play. He made a great diving catch on that. And then to pop up, knowing that we have a chance for the double play, and throw the guy out at second, that’s a game changer.
“If he doesn’t get to that ball or it goes through, we’re going to have our hands full.”
Lummus supplied the three biggest hits on the day for the Indians. After homering against Manhattan, Lummus had a double and a triple in the Great Bend game, driving in three runs.
“Each year that a guy is in our program we want them to progress and get better, and Brock sure has made a big jump this year,” Leo said. “He’s had big hits for us and he’s doing a great job behind the plate. He carried us today on offense. We didn’t do a whole lot — we were a little opportunistic in game two — but Brock came through when we needed him.”
Riggs has now tossed 14 consecutive scoreless innings after shutting out Liberal last week. He gave up three hits and three walks and struck out four against Manhattan.
“I’m seeing a locked-in Trey Riggs,” Lummus said. “He knows how to pitch and hopefully he trusts me behind the plate. He knows his game. When he’s at his best, I don’t think we can lose.”
Hays’ Palmer Hutchison gave up 10 hits on the mound against Great Bend, but worked his way out of a couple jams, minimizing the damage in his complete-game win.
Great Bend put its first three batters on base in the top of the first but the Indians surrendered just one run after turning a double play. The Panthers got another run in the fourth but Hutchison induced another ground ball double play with the bases loaded to end the threat.
“He made pitches when he needed to,” Leo said of Hutchison. “He minimized in the first inning; he holds them to one run when they had a chance to maybe get three, four, five runs. (Cody) Petersen turned a great double play in that first inning. He just made tremendous plays for us throughout the day at shortstop.”
The Indians will continue the Diamond Classic against Salina Central at 7:15 Friday.