The Hays Larks held off a rally from the Wellington Heat to claim the Kansas Collegiate League Baseball Postseason Tournament with a 10-9 win on Tuesday night at Rodney Wheeler Stadium.
The Larks (32-10) will open pool play in the first week of the National Baseball Congress World Series against the Waco Missions at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Eck Stadium in Wichita. They will play the Great Bend Bat Cats on Sunday night. The top two from each pool will advance to the single-elimination tournament of the first week of the NBC World Series.
The Larks took a 10-6 lead into the ninth against Wellington but had to sweat out some anxious moments in the ninth. Reliever Drew Marrufo gave up three runs but got the final out to end the game.
The Larks took control early with five runs in the bottom of the first. George Sutherland drove in the first two runs with a double before Jarrod Belbin hit a three-run home run to right field.
In the third, Mikey Gangwish tripled in a run and then came home to score on a sacrifice fly from Max McGuire to make it 7-2.
Sutherland had an RBI sac fly in the seventh and the Larks added two more insurance runs.
Larks pitcher Tommy Garcia went seven innings to earn the win, giving up five runs (four earned) and 10 hits while striking out eight. Rustin Hays gave up a run in the eighth before Marrufo entered for the ninth.
Justin Lee went 4 for 5 at the plate for the Larks.
The Larks recently lost two more players to injury. Pitcher Christian Pearcy is out with a hernia while center fielder Drake Angeron will miss the rest of the season with a hamstring injury.