Larks edged by Denver Cougars, 3-2

Rick Peterson Jr.
Hays Larks pitcher Ryan Ruder brings a pitch to the plate on Saturday against the Denver Cougars. The Larks dropped a 3-2 decision.

The Hays Larks looked poised for another comeback win late in Saturday’s night matchup with the Denver Cougars, but the breaks didn’t go the Larks’ way in the ninth as Hays took a 3-2 loss at Larks Park.

Trailing 3-0, Cameron Pehrson’s two-run home run gave the Larks a jolt in the eighth to make it a one-run game.

Things looked promising in the ninth after Jake Wyeth led off with a single and pinch runner Jace Armstong was moved to second base on Sean Cooper’s sacrifice bunt.

Leo Jiminian then drilled a ball that hit off the pitcher’s foot and resulted an out.

With Armstrong on third, Matt Cavanagh hit a chopper to the shortstop and was called out at first on a close play that was disputed by the Larks, who saw a seven-game winning streak snapped.

“Sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t,” Larks manager Frank Leo said. “Leo hit that ball well, and somehow it found the pitcher’s foot. I don’t think we’re going to score on that play, but it changes the whole tempo of that inning. ...

“The first base coach (Bryce Baumwart) and (Cavanagh) were by the base when they heard the sound of the ball at the base, but that’s baseball. It’s a bang-bang play. We don’t have instant replay at this level.”

Knowing that the Larks (19-7) had already wrapped up the RMBL title, it made the loss a little easier to swallow.

“I don’t want to say it didn’t have the meaning of (Friday night’s 4-3 walkoff win), but wrapping up the RMBL last night and taking our berth into the NBC, we were a little laid back tonight,” Leo said. “We pitched it well enough, we just have to find a way to start hitting better.”

Larks starter Ryan Ruder went 5.1 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits with no walks. Brady Rose went two innings in relief, allowing one run on two hits with two walks while striking out five.

The Cougars got their third run when a pitch from Wyatt Divis grazed the jersey of Brody Boisvert with the bases loaded to make it a 3-0 game in the eighth. It was the only blemish in Divis’ 1.2 innings of work.

Sunday’s non-league game with the Cougars was rained out. The Larks will play the GameDay Saints on Tuesday and Wednesday at Larks Park to close the regular season.

“We got to work on our offensive game, that’s No. 1,” Leo said. “We’ll keep our pitchers all sharp, get them some work. But our offensive game has to find some kind of rhythm right now. We’re not getting those back-to-back hits that we need to get. We’re doing some of that in the late innings, but we’re putting too much pressure on ourselves. We got to try to get something going early in the ballgame.”