Indians 'fire on all cylinders' in 9-0 win over Manhattan to claim Diamond Classic title
A tough loss, a walk-off win, a no-hitter and a dominant performance over a Class 6A squad made for an action-packed weekend for the Hays High baseball team.
It all culminated in a Western Plains Diamond Classic championship.
The hosting Indians bounced back from a tournament-opening loss to take three straight wins and capture the Classic title for the 15th time in its 39-year history.
Hays avenged Friday's setback against Manhattan with a 9-0 victory in the final on Saturday.
"It was a blast today," Hays High coach Dustin Dreher said. "After the loss to Manhattan, I didn't think we fired on all cylinders. ... But today, we fired on all cylinders in every facet of the game."
Junior Dylan Dreiling was named Most Outstanding Player of the Diamond Classic. The left hander tossed a complete-game shutout in the final, helping the Indians snap Manhattan's 12-game winning streak. Manhattan (14-3) took an 8-6 win over Hays in the first game of the Classic on Friday.
"I was ready since they beat us," Dreiling said, who scattered seven hits and struck out seven while striking out two in the final. "Really just wanted to prove that we're a good team and we can beat those guys."
Hays High took a 3-0 lead in the third inning in the final/ Carson Spray drove in the first run with a hit up in the middle. Ben Krannawitter later brought in Spray with a single to left, and Dawson VonFeldt brought home Dalyn Schwarz with a sacrifice fly.
The Indians then broke it open with a five-run sixth, highlighted by a three-run home run by Dalton Dale.
"It was awesome to see him get his first home run," Dreiling said.
"It cleared the fence easy, and that ball traveled a long way," Dreher said. "I think it was headed to left center and the wind blew it to left. That was an exciting moment for him, and just to get Dylan some breathing room, too."
Dreiling has surrendered just three runs in 33 innings on the mound this season.
"Really just my energy and competitiveness is really helping me on the mound right now," Dreiling said.
"He's a competitor," Dreher said. "He goes out there and he just wants to be better. Every time he goes out he tries to get a little bit better. He's worked on a couple pitches this year, bringing in a cutter and a curve ball. He's got a great changeup and a good fastball that moves.
"Man, he wanted it bad. After (Friday) he wanted to come out and prove a point, and he did."
Sophomore Blake Schmidt had a memorable varsity debut in the Indians' final game of pool play on Saturday against Life Prep. Schmidt walked six and hit four batters, giving up two runs (one earned), but didn't surrender a hit in the Indians' 8-2 win.
"That's going to be a memory right there that he'll have forever," Dreher said.
Dreiling had a bases-loaded triple to help fuel a five-run fifth inning for Hays against Life Prep. The Indians had four extra-base hits against the Fire. Dreiling, Schwarz and Garrett Wellbrock all doubled to go along with Dreiling's triple.
The Indians had nine hits against Manhattan in the final — Dale's homer and eight singles.
"Everyone on our team is a good hitter, so just trying to keep it simple and get some good swings," Dreiling said.
"We had competitive ABs," Dreher said. "We had about six or seven guys in the first game that probably saw about seven or eight pitch at-bats. We just had some grinder at-bats and the kids battled at the plate."
On Friday night, the Indians kept their Classic title hopes alive by pulling out a 4-3 win over rival Great Bend in eight innings. Ben Krannawitter’s sac fly scored Will Cadoret for the winning run.
Saturday's third-place game between Great Bend and Life Prep was cancelled because of weather.
Hays' 13-3 record currently puts the Indians third in the Class 5A West standings for regional play. Hays High will play a doubleheader at Ulysses on Tuesday. The Indians then play host to Liberal and Garden City in a triangular Friday at Hays High.
"It gives us a ton of confidence," Dreiling said of the Manhattan win. "Really good opponent. To beat those guys is huge."
Dreher said it was a strong tournament, overall.
"(Life Prep) had some great athletes," he said. "Great Bend is solid up and down. And Manhattan's just a great team. We played our butts off today. Played all right (Friday), but really played well today.
"It's a great time to start playing well. A great time to play your best baseball is at the end of the year."