Five Hays Larks pitchers combined to hold the Colorado Springs Outlaws to one run and five hits as the Larks wrapped up a six-game homestand with an 8-1 victory on Sunday at Larks Park.
Paddy Walsh, Cole Zimmerman, Trey Riggs, Jacob Ensz and Wyatt Divis all kept the Outlaw bats in check.
"We need to get some guys some work, and everybody we ran out there did a good job tonight and got their work in," said Larks manager Frank Leo, whose team moved to 5-1 on the season. "Outside of the one (run) we gave up in the first, a pretty good evening for our arms."
Walsh (Fort Hays State) got the start in his Larks debut. The right hander gave up one unearned run and didn’t allow a hit in three innings of work. He struck out five and walked one.
"I thought he did a nice job, got some pitch count built up," Leo said. "That’s going to be a key for our starters, if we can gradually build them up so they can give us five, maybe six innings and go to the bullpen."
Zimmerman took over on the mound in the fourth, tossing three scoreless innings. Riggs, Ensz and Divis then worked an inning apiece and kept the Outlaws off the board.
After the Outlaws scored their lone run in the top of the first on a Larks error, Hays answered with two runs in the bottom half. FHSU’s Corbin Truslow drove in a run with a groundout, and Grant Lung scored on a passed ball.
Cameron Pehrson came home on a wild pitch in the second, and the Larks tacked on another run off an Outlaws’ throwing error in the third.
In the fourth, Leo Jiminian scored on another wild pitch before Truslow kept up his hot start to the summer with a two-run single to extend the lead to 7-1.
"The key has really been just staying loose," Truslow said. "I’m with a great group of guys. I’m enjoying every minute of it."
The Larks had eight hits, drew three walks and took advantage of four Outlaws’ errors. Grant Lung and Pehrson each had a double.
"I think we’re kind of feeding off each other," Leo said of the Larks’ offense. "Our at-bats are good, they’re competitive. We’re getting better, we’re getting stronger, and we saw some good breaking pitches tonight.
"I’m pleased. Five and one on the homestand. Now we’re ready to take the show on the road for six days."
The Larks added a couple local players in Jace Armstrong, a Hays High grad and current FHSU Tiger, and Dylan Dreiling, who is entering his junior year at HHS. Both players came off the bench to play in the outfield on Sunday.
"They’ll be kind of role players for us, with a limited roster of 20," Leo said. "It’s hard to get guys in here this late because they’re all settled in back home; you got the COVID situation. They’ll be role type guys and give us some depth."
The Larks also picked up Lawrence native Trevor Munsch, a left-handed pitcher.
The Larks will start the six-game Colorado road trip by facing the Colorado Pirates at 5:30 p.m. (Central time) Tuesday in La Salle, Colo. That contest is a make-up game from the rainout on June 21.
The Larks used a well-executed and balanced offensive attack to run-rule the Outlaws, 11-1, on Saturday night.
The Larks had eight hits and drew 11 walks, cashing in on their scoring opportunities to move to 4-1 on the season.
"That’s the game of baseball," Leo said. "When you got men on base, what are you doing? Are you coming through, putting the ball in the play, moving runners? We did a great job of that tonight."
All nine players in the Larks’ lineup reached base safely at least once.
Divis gave the Larks their first home run of the summer with a shot to right field in the third. Divis also had an RBI single to force the run rule in the seventh.
"Wyatt’s getting there," Leo said. "Wyatt’s a big part of our offense, and he was a little frustrated his first few games. We needed to get him more at-bats. Our league doesn’t use the pitcher/DH, so when he pitches he doesn’t get to hit. He needs to get those ABs and get in that rhythm. Once he does, it’s going to be a real good 1-2 punch with Divis and Truslow."
Truslow added two hits.
"Truslow is in a very good groove right now," Leo said. "The exit velo off his bat is real good. He hasn’t hit a home run, but he’s had some loud line drives. Very consistent. He hasn’t had a bad at-bat this summer."
The Outlaws got on the board with a run in the top of the second but the Larks answered with three in the bottom half. Truslow led off with a single, followed by a walk from Jacob Wyeth. Palmer Hutchison then bunted for a hit to load the bases.
The Larks got their first run on a wild pitch, and Wyeth scored after the Outlaws couldn’t get an out on a fielder’s choice grounder from Sean Cooper. Jiminian later drew a bases-loaded walk for the third run.
In addition to Divis’ homer, the Larks got RBI singles from Cooper and Drew Buhr in the third.
Hays tacked on four more runs in the sixth before Divis’ hit ended it in the seventh.
Larks starter Landon Schirer (Angelo State) got into a jam in the second inning but limited the Outlaws to one run. He went four innings, giving up one earned run, three hits and three walks while striking out four.
"His last outing, he hit a little bump in the second inning and couldn’t get out of that," Leo said. "Today, he had a clean first inning. Second inning, he got into a little trouble. And it was good to see him be able to reset and not let that second inning get on him like it did the previous start. It was good to see him bounce back with a good start for us."
TMP product and FHSU pitcher Ryan Ruder tossed three scoreless innings in relief, allowing just one hit and one walk.
Larks catcher Max McGuire had to exit the game before the fifth inning with a quad injury.
"Hopefully it’s not severe and it won’t hamper him for a while," Leo said.
The Larks turned to Pehrson to take over catching duties.
"It was ironic," Leo said. "Just a couple days ago, Cam and I were talking -- he’s kind of a versatile guy, can play a lot of positions — I said, ’Did you ever catch?" He said, ’Yeah, I caught a little bit in high school. I said, ’Well, you’re our No. 3 guy.’
"He got his baptism out here a little quicker than I thought it would happen, but it was good to see that he got comfortable. Of course, Ryan Ruder made it easy on him. He was right around the plate, didn’t put a lot of balls in the dirt."
Leo said he was encouraged by how the Larks responded after their first loss
"It was interesting to see how we would handle that after getting an L (Friday night)," Leo said. "I thought our guys were pretty focused and weren’t going to let that happen two nights in a row."