The Hays Larks won their second straight game at the 2020 NBC World Series on Tuesday night at Hobart-Detter Field in Hutchinson, but they did not make it easy on themselves.
The Larks committed four errors defensively and left 17 runners on base offensively, but still found a way to pull out a 5-3 win over the Lonestar, Texas Baseball Club. Hays’ four errors led to three unearned runs, and despite outhitting Lonestar by a 12-6 margin, the game was close from start to finish.
"We didn’t play a clean game like we are used to playing," Hays manager Frank Leo said. "We have to fix the LOB’s — we left a lot of runners on base yesterday, too. We found a way to win, and that’s what matters."
Hays found itself down 2-0 after Lonestar scored a pair of runs in the fourth. Hays committed three of its four errors in the fourth, which led to one earned and one unearned run.
Max Puls led off the inning with a double down the right-field line, and Justin Taylor brought him home a couple batters later on a sacrifice fly. Charlie Overstreet scored an unearned run to give Lonestar its second run.
Hays answered right back and tied the game in the fifth. Cam Pehrson blooped a single to centerfield, then Brennen van Breusegen hit an RBI infield single to tie the game at two.
Hays took the lead in the sixth when Cruz Aranda led off the inning with a triple, then proceeded to score on a wild pitch.
Lonestar battled back to tie the game in the seventh thanks to a two-out rally. Seth Stephenson kicked things off with a two-out hit, while Puls followed with a single to put runners on first and second.
Lonestar went for the double steal, and when the throw to third got away from the Hays third baseman, Stephenson was able to reach home. In the process, Puls got greedy and tried for third, but was denied on a diving tag.
The back-and-forth affair continued as Hays went back on the attack in the eighth. The first three Larks reached base to load them up with no outs, but Lonestar pitcher Nick Davis was close to getting out of the inning unharmed.
Davis struck out the next two Hays batters, and a ground ball to shortstop nearly ended the inning, but the Lonestar first baseman could not handle a one-hopper, allowing one run to score.
With the bases still loaded and two outs, Aranda hit an infield single to the shortstop to make it a 5-3 game.
Davis, who struck out five in 2 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run, was able to get the next batter out, but the damage was done.
Lonestar made minimal noise in the eighth, and went down 1-2-3 in the ninth.
Hays starter Carlos Tavera was excellent, pitching six innings and striking out 11 while allowing just three hits and one earned run.
The Hays bullpen also did its job, allowing a combined three hits and no earned runs.
"I thought our pitchers did an outstanding job not letting our mistakes bother them," Leo said.
Hays advances to Thursday’s championship semifinals and will face the Cheney Diamond Dawgs at Wichita State. The Larks are sitting in good position moving forward after their first two games.
"The day off is huge — if we don’t win today, we have to play every day and it becomes really a grind," Leo said. "This was a huge win for us today to get that W."
Lonestar will face the Houston Express on Wednesday at Wichita State in an elimination game.