WICHITA — Clayton Chadwick says he doesn’t feel anything different when the bases are loaded, but two grand slams in three days may tell a different story.
Chadwick blasted two home runs Friday night at Eck Stadium in Wichita to help lead the Hutchinson Monarchs to an 11-3 run-rule victory over the Hays Larks in an elimination game at the NBC World Series.
Chadwick, who hit a grand slam against the Kansas City All-Stars on Wednesday, hit another grand slam in part of a seven-run sixth inning for the Monarchs that blew a competitive game wide open.
Chadwick also hit a solo home run in the third to give the Monarchs their first run. For the game, Chadwick was 3 for 4 with five RBIs.
"My teammates do a good job of getting on in front of me and I know I have a job to do so I just try to do my job," Chadwick said. "If it weren’t for my teammates getting on, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do."
Chadwick joins Taylor Barber as the only other Monarch to hit nine home runs in a season. But Chadwick is more than just a star at the plate.
In the bottom of the eighth with runners on the corner, Chadwick successfully stole home to trigger the mercy rule and end the game. According to Chadwick, he did not receive a signal to steal.
"I left a little early. It was something a little risky, but it worked out," Chadwick said.
Hutchinson starter Jake Hamilton, a Wichita State pitcher, got off to a rough start in his home stadium, but rebounded well.
Hays’ Corbin Truslow hit a two-run home run in the first inning, and Hamilton responded by throwing four consecutive scoreless innings.
"It’s special to have six Wichita State pitchers and to play on this field," Hutchinson manager Deron McCue said. "I’m going to try to use them to the best of my ability."
After scoring two runs in the first, Hays went scoreless until the seventh inning. By then, Hutchinson had a commanding lead.
"We let the sixth inning get out of control," Hays manger Frank Leo said. "We had a couple bad defensive decisions, we walked guys. . . it just snow-balled out of control. It wasn’t a very clean inning, and against a very good ball club, you can’t do that."
Heading into Saturday there were four teams remaining at the World Series: Hutchinson, the Houston Express, the Santa Barbara Foresters, and the Cheney Diamond Dawgs.
Hutchinson moved on to play the Houston Express Saturday night.
Hays ended its season with a 22-10 record. Leo will remember the uncertainty of the season and the gratitude he felt being able to play baseball this summer.
"It wasn’t easy, there was a lot of stress. The easiest part of this summer was when we crossed the white line and were able to play the game," Leo said. "With COVID-19, our number one priority was keeping the kids safe, and we did that."
The Cheney Diamond Dawgs averted a late-inning disaster to claim a 2-1 win over the Hays Larks in the championship quarterfinals of the 86th National Baseball Congress World Series Thursday at Eck Stadium in Wichita.
"I knew it was going to be a tough game," Cheney manager Pat Hon said. "You don’t see a three-quarter knuckle baller that often. I don’t know how you prepare for that. He did a great job. Everybody knows Hays’ tradition and how good they are."
"It was that kind of a game," Hays manager Frank Leo said. "I thought we barreled some balls. We had one with two outs to left field that I thought was going to get through. We got good at bats with runners in scoring position. We just hit it at them. We didn’t get that one between them."
Cheney reached the semifinals for the second straight year.
In the top of the ninth, Brennen van Breusegen was hit by a pitch and went to second on a Dylan Dreiling sacrifice bunt. Sean Cooper hit an infield fly ball that landed for a single. Van Breusegen was caught in a run down, but was able to safely get back to second base. A ground out to third base and a strikeout ended the game.
Jeff Wilson pitched the last two outs for the save.
"We limited it," Wilson said. "We didn’t let hit get to third and that kept the double play alive. It’s better than trying to make a crazy play happen. I just needed a grounder. I went fastball and had a hard slider. I just worked a good one.
"I was just feeling a little under the weather," Wilson said. "Nothing too serious. Just a little tired. I’m not going to quit on my guys. It was definitely scary. You try to play every game like it’s your last."
"The closer in there has been sick the last two or three days," Hon said. "He was sick enough that he got tested (for COVID-19). Luckily, he came back negative. I didn’t know how much he had in the tank. In that situation, he’s the one I want out there."
Chandler Arnold went five innings for the Dawgs, allowing a run on five hits wth a walk and four strikeouts. Colin Sells pitched 3.1 innings for the win, striking out three.
Rustin Hays pitched 5.1 innings for the Larks, allowing a run on three hits with four walks and four strikeouts. Drew Buhr finished the game for the loss, allowing a run on two hits with a walk and two strikeouts.
"I expected it to be a pitcher’s duel tonight," Leo said. "It was going to be a close game. We knew we had to take advantage of something. … I’m not disappointed in our guys’ effort. We went up against good pitching, and you’re not going to get a lot of opportunities."
Cheney was outhit 8-5. Hays left nine runners on base, while Cheney left eigth.
"We were so worried about the knuckleballer and how we were going to approach it," Hon said. "We worried about it too much instead of going on hitting."
With two outs in the top of the fourth, Cam Pehrson doubled to right field and scored on a Corbin Truslow single. For Cheney in the bottom of the fourth, Jackson Glenn singled, went to second on a bunt and scored on a David Sims single.
Cheney loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the sixth, but a strikeout and a pop out ended the threat.
In the bottom of the seventh, Cheney took its first lead when Ed Scott singled, went to second on a bunt and scored on a George Specht single.