The Hays Eagles finished off a dominant showing in pool play late Friday night in the American Legion Class AA/AAA state tournament, but they didn't have much time to savor it before switching their focus to Saturday.
In a game that didn’t end until about 11:20 p.m. Friday, the Eagles stayed red hot at the plate, pounding out 17 hits in a 14-8 win over the Great Bend Chiefs at Larks Park.
Hays finished 3-0 in pool play but had a quick turnaround, facing Sabetha at 10 a.m. Saturday in the semifinal.
The Eagles edged Sabetha in dramatic fashion, scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh to rally for a 5-4 win and advance to the title game later Saturday afternoon.
Against Great Bend on Friday, the Eagles made the Chiefs pay dearly for a one-out error on a pop-up in the third inning, resulting in a run scoring to tie it up at 2. The floodgates opened following the miscue, with Hays putting up eight runs in the frame to take a 9-2 lead.
Josh Haynes gave the Eagles a 3-2 lead with a single to left field to start the hit parade. Dominic Bainter, Cody Petersen, Palmer Hutchison and Trey Riggs all added RBI hits to break it open in the third.
“We just kept the train going — one guy after another getting hits,” Eagles coach Dustin Schumacher said. “Just battling, good at-bats. If we’d get down in counts, it didn’t matter. We’d still get hits. Just did a good job finding holes.”
Cody Petersen went six innings on the mound, allowing five runs on seven hits with three walks and five strikeouts. Colby Dreiling tossed the seventh.
Hays was on fire at the plate all through pool play, finishing with 42 runs in the three games. Petersen, Hutchison and Haynes each had three hits Friday night.
“Just being aggressive on pitches in the zone,” Schumacher said.
In Saturday's semifinal, the Eagles trailed 4-2 heading to the bottom of the seventh. Petersen and Hutchison drew walks to start the rally, then moved into scoring position after a stolen base from Petersen and a wild pitch. Riggs singled down the left field line to bring in both runners and tie it at 4.
Riggs moved to second on another wild pitch and advanced to third on Brock Lummus' sac bunt.
Brady Kreutzer then delivered the walkoff hit, blistering a line drive to left field to score Riggs.
Riggs tossed a complete game to earn the win, allowing four runs (two earned) on seven hits while striking out eight and walking just one.