The Hays Larks made the Denver Cougars pay for control issues on the mound and miscues on the field on Thursday night at Larks Park.
The Larks finished with nine hits, drew 10 walks and took advantage of five Denver errors, picking up a 9-2 win to move to 3-0 on the season.
"We took advantage of what they gave us," Larks manager Frank Leo said. "They had some control issues, we took advantage of that. They kicked it around on defense, and we got the hits when we needed them.
"That’s what this ball club needs to do — be situational hitters. We did a good job tonight with that."
UT-Arlington’s Wyatt Divis stuck out eight in five shutout innings for the Larks to move to 2-0 on the mound. Divis allowed three hits and didn’t surrender a walk.
"I felt tonight was a very good building block," said Divis, whose playing with the Larks for the third straight summer. "There were some mechanical issues that we had, and there can be better location. But from the other night that I threw to tonight, there were some big changes. Everything was smoother. Velocity was better, command was better. I’m just going to keep trying to work on getting better command, so then everything flows."
"Wyatt competes," Leo said. "He’s starting to wear off on our guys. Our guys see how Wyatt competes, and I think they’re all going to start saying, ’Hey, we’re going to do the same thing.’"
The Larks gave Divis run support early as Denver starter Adam Artis struggled to find his command. After Artis walked the bases loaded in the bottom of the first, the Larks got two runs after the Cougars’ shortstop threw the ball away on Cam Pehrson’s grounder.
Hays plated two more runs off a Cougars’ error in the third, and scored two more in the fourth, aided by another Denver error.
While Denver struggled defensively, the Larks were sharp in the field.
In what Leo called a ESPN highlight reel play, shortstop Matt Cavanagh went deep in the hole on a grounder to throw out a runner at first in the fourth inning. The Larks also threw out two runners at the plate on Thursday.
"I feel good about our defense," Leo said. "Our offense, we just need to get some more at-bats. It’s only game three. You got to remember, these guys did nothing this spring. It takes time to get back in the groove. But we barreled some good balls tonight, and hopefully we’ll continue to get better as we go."
"It’s a very good defensive team," Divis said. "Overall, we’re going to be a very good team. ... I will go to war with everybody on this team."
Larks catcher Max McGuire pushed the lead to 9-0 with a 3-run double in the sixth.
Brady Rose worked scoreless frames in the sixth and seventh for the Larks. Henry Peguero put the Cougars on the board with a two-run homer to left off Trey Riggs. Jacob Ensz got the final three outs in the ninth.
Hays High product Palmer Hutchison, who plays at Kansas City Kansas Community College, reached base five times for the Larks. He drew two walks, had one hit, was a hit by a pitch and reached on an error.
"I like Palmer’s game," Leo said. "He’s made the right steps going into college from high school. He seems very focused and very selective, and that’s what you got to be."
After opening the season with a doubleheader last Saturday, the Larks had to wait four days before taking the field again thanks to a rain out and a rescheduled two-game series.
The Larks will play host to the Cougars again on Friday night for First Responders Night before playing a two-game set with the Colorado Springs Outlaws on Saturday and Sunday.
"We hope we can get some kind of rhythm going," Leo said. "... It’s been a lot of practice time, which is good for these guys, but we need to get on the field now and just play," Leo said.
HAYS LARKS 9, DENVER COUGARS 2
Artis, Scott (3), Boisvert (6) and Peguero. Divis, Rose (6), Riggs (8), Ens (9) and McGuire. W — Divis. L — Artis. 2B — Denver: Wilbur. Larks: Jiminian, McGuire.