Wyatt Divis set the tone with five strong innings and three relievers followed suit with solid outings to help the Hays Larks pick up a 5-1 win over Valley Center on Monday night at Larks Park.
Divis, Rustin Hays, Nash Neff and Mason Myhre combined to hold the Mud Daubers to six hits as the Larks improved to 17-4.
Divis gave up one run and two hits, and the bullpen nailed down the win with four scoreless innings.
“We know what Wyatt Divis is going to give us; Wyatt’s a competitor and he’s going to keep us in the ball game every time we run him out,” Larks manager Frank Leo said. “The good thing we’ve seen the past two nights — Nash Neff has had back-to-back good outings, and so has Mason Myhre. That’s going to give us some options for the big series coming up with Liberal. We’ll give those guys a shot. They’ve proved that they can get it done.”
Divis, also an infielder, worked in relief for the Larks last summer and pitched out of the bullpen this past spring for the University of Texas at Arlington. He’s adapted nicely to a starting role, going 4-0 this summer with a 2.77 ERA.
“He can do whatever you need him to do, but our need this year was a starter,” Leo said. “We lost a couple guys right before the season started that we were counting on to be starters. He’s stepped in and done a great job for us.”
Rustin Hays, a knuckleballer, worked the sixth and seventh innings, allowing just one hit.
“The knuckleball just floats in there and he gets outs,” Leo said.
Nash Neff tossed a scoreless eighth inning, turning in his second straight strong outing after struggling in a start against Park City on June 16.
“He really bounced back well,” Leo said. “He made some adjustments. He’s got the stuff to be electric at times. Back-to-back good outings will give him a boost for whatever we need him to do.”
Mason Myhre closed out the game in the ninth, working around two hits to keep the Mud Daubers off the board. After a leadoff single, the complexion of the inning was changed when left fielder George Sutherland threw out a Mud Dauber trying to stretch a single into a double for the first out of the inning.
“George Sutherland, that guy just plays hard on every ball no matter what the score is,” Leo said. “He tried to make a sliding, diving catch on the foul ball right before that. He’s just a good, solid player.”
The Larks did most of their damage early. A Jarrod Belbin infield single tied the game at 1 in the bottom of the second. Jimmy DeLeon then delivered a two-out single to drive in two and give the Larks a 3-1 lead.
“I think Jimmy’s hit was the hit of the game,” Leo said. “We didn’t do much after that; their pitchers did a good job against us tonight. Jimmy DeLeon had the big hit for us.”
Sutherland belted a solo home run in the fourth and the Larks tacked on an insurance run in the seventh on a sacrifice fly from Drake Angeron.
The Larks were set to go for the series sweep of Valley Center on Tuesday night. They will be off Wednesday and Thursday before opening a key four-game series against Liberal on Friday at Larks Park.