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Tigers' Cole earns MIAA soccer honor -9/30/2014, 3:10 PM

Royals' playoff appearance years in the making for some fans -9/30/2014, 10:34 AM

Chiefs offense gets rolling in rout -9/30/2014, 10:31 AM

California has four teams in the playoffs for the first time -9/30/2014, 10:31 AM

TMP golf finishes third at Hoisington meet -9/30/2014, 10:35 AM

Monarchs move to 14-10 -9/30/2014, 10:30 AM

Big 12 coaches react to firing -9/30/2014, 10:21 AM

HHS volleyball goes 2-3 in Newton -9/29/2014, 10:27 AM

HHS tennis places third at Garden City Invitational -9/29/2014, 4:16 PM

Tiger tennis finishes fall season 5-2 -9/29/2014, 10:27 AM

MNF for Chiefs -9/29/2014, 10:27 AM

Royals' starters rest in win -9/29/2014, 10:26 AM

KU shows Weis the door -9/29/2014, 10:26 AM

Jayhawks take the conservative route in their loss to Texas -9/28/2014, 9:43 AM

FHSU soccer cruises past SW Baptist -9/28/2014, 7:03 PM

Victoria takes advantage for close win at Ness -9/28/2014, 1:14 AM

Plainville grabs first win, beats TMP -9/28/2014, 7:02 PM

Area prep football roundup: Otis-Bison, Kinsley set record -9/28/2014, 7:02 PM

Wildcats roll -9/28/2014, 7:02 PM

Delton, HHS run past Garden City -9/28/2014, 7:02 PM

Tiger women's soccer picks up 1-0 win at Southern -9/28/2014, 7:02 PM

Tiger women's XC wins at Emporia State -9/27/2014, 7:12 PM

Kansas City clinches first playoff berth since 1985 -9/27/2014, 7:02 PM

Tigers take down No. 8 Pitt State -9/27/2014, 6:53 PM

Kansas linebacker Jake Love lives on instincts -9/26/2014, 11:06 AM

Like old times, Kansas State takes pride in stuffing the run -9/26/2014, 10:57 AM

FHSU women fall 2-1 -9/26/2014, 10:23 AM

Big win for Tiger soccer -9/26/2014, 10:46 AM

Tough test for Tiger football -9/26/2014, 10:23 AM

Hays High, TMP move to 4A -9/26/2014, 10:24 AM

One more win and Royals are in -9/26/2014, 10:47 AM

HHS XC second at McPherson meet -9/26/2014, 10:25 AM

Indian soccer snaps skid -9/26/2014, 10:47 AM

HHS golf clinches share of WAC title -9/26/2014, 10:48 AM

Monarchs, Cardinals seek first win -9/25/2014, 10:13 AM

Royals drop game at Cleveland -9/25/2014, 10:26 AM

UTEP football coach Sean Kugler hopes to build a program that can emulate Kansas State -9/25/2014, 10:13 AM

Indians hit the road -9/25/2014, 10:13 AM

Giants, Redskins trying to avoid steeper climb in East -9/25/2014, 10:13 AM

Sports Scores

Tuesday

Prep basketball

Boys

Atwood 76, St. Francis 65

Dighton 62, Oberlin 47

Hillsboro 50, Goodland 47

Lakeside 42, Lincoln 32

Minneapolis 68, Russell 35

Rock Hills 42, Natoma 37

Salina Central 62, Andover 58

Salina South 62, Sacred Heart 47

Sharon Springs 75, Leoti 38

St. John's Beloit-Tipton 57, Osborne 34

Sylvan-Lucas 61, Thunder Ridge 48

Girls

Dighton 44, Atwood 11

Dodge City 71, Hays High 28

Hesston 51, Goodland 18

Hoisington 60, Victoria 46

Hoxie 65, St. Francis 13

Lincoln 33, Lakeside 26

Minneapolis 47, Otis-Bison 24

Osborne 59, Wilson 34

Sharon Springs 63, Oberlin 42

Sylvan-Lucas 43, Natoma 41 (ot)

Tescott 41, Rock Hills 33

Trego 56, Leoti 27

Thunder Ridge 33, St. John's Beloit-Tipton 30

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SPOTLIGHT
Larks down Liberal, win 11th straight

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Larks down Liberal, win 11th straight

Published on -6/19/2013, 9:43 AM

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By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

The Hays Larks draw players from all over the United States, and sometimes from outside of the country. Athletes come from NCAA Division I, Division II and junior colleges, and occasionally the NAIA ranks. Sometimes, it takes time for the squad to come together. However, by the end of the first week this season, manager Frank Leo said a strong bond had formed, one of the quicker meshes in his 30-plus years.

On Tuesday, the Larks rode out a 45-minute rain delay before the game started, then scored five runs in the first two innings. Hays eventually held on to beat Liberal, 5-3, at Larks Park. Hays moved to 14-1, 10-1 Jayhawk League, while Liberal 8-7, 4-7. The Larks now have won 11 in a row.

"They were together, they believe in each other," Leo said.

"They are having fun with each other. The game of baseball has its ups and downs. When we hit a bump, hopefully these guys will be able to ride through that. In a long summer like this, in the heat of the summer, you are going to hit a bump. But I think we've got the kind of chemistry and the kind of makeup to handle that."

In the first inning, the Larks had the first three batters reach base. Aaron Cornell led off with a walk and Desmond Roberts singled up the middle. Jake Placzek moved to the No. 3 slot and played shortstop in place of Elvin Rodriguez, who drove down to Wichita for a tryout with an Independent League team. He bunted down the third base line to load the bases.

"We are all playing really loose," Placzek said. "When we are playing loose, we play with confidence. We hit the ball, play good defense, pitch really well. Just kind of all meshing together. That's what it takes to win."

Catcher Taylor Petersen then delivered a rare feat. He blasted an opposite field shot in the right-center gap that went 300-plus feet. However, Petersen broke his bat.

"He said he hit it good," Leo said. "The Major Leagues get all the best wood and we get what's left. If he had good, solid wood, it probably would have went out of the park. You can't figure that one out. How do you break a bat and almost hit it off the wall? We will take it, that's the kind of roll that we are on."

Petersen's hit scored two runs and ended up as a long single with Placzek held at second base. Petersen carries a .367 average and is tied for the team-high with 19 RBIs.

"It was an interesting swing, because honestly, I got the ball pretty good," Petersen said. "I thought I got it on the screws. There must have been something wrong with the bat, or maybe it was just its time to break."

Placzek went 3 of 3 with a walk and a three-run double that hit off the top of the wall in left-center field and caromed back into play in the second inning.

"I hit it pretty good," Placzek said. "I thought it was gone. It's whatever. I am kind of upset that it didn't go out, but three runs score, so it's not a big deal."

He leads the team in multiple hitting categories with a .436 average, .593 on-base percentage and .564 slugging percentage.

"I am not usually in the 3 hole," Placzek said. "It's kind of different. You get guys on, you just go up there swinging."

Then, Justin Bethard (2-1) settled in and worked 5.1 innings. Hays, which has stolen bases 75 percent of the time this year, lost two runners on steals, including Placzek. He hadn't been caught this summer, but slid past the second base bag on the wet turf.

"It was a grinder," Leo said. "We did what we had to do to win. Our offense did well early, and then the kid settled in. He did start making some pitches and he shut down the running game a little bit, got a little quicker to the plate."

Left-hander Chandler Hawkins (4-0) worked seven innings of three-run ball for the win. Hawkins worked in and out of jams throughout the night and allowed six hits and nine strikeouts against six walks. Liberal scored all three runs in the fifth on two singles, a hit by pitch and a two-run double that landed just inside the right field line by Sam Pack.

"Chandler is the reason why this game went as successful as it did," Petersen said. "Talk about filling up the zone, keeping everybody involved. Did a great job."

Logan DeRosier, who has struggled some this summer, worked a scoreless eighth and David Owen pitched the ninth. The team chemistry, though, helped the team stay loose. One time, the Larks were batting. The entire team ran from inside the dugout to the dugout railing to help the squad. The locker room blared loud music. Multiple players stayed after to watch the Miami Heat force overtime in the NBA Finals.

"The team chemistry on this team is unbelievable," Leo said. "They get along so well together. They are in sync. They enjoy, they pull for each other. They are on the same page, and it's kind of a fun bunch to be with."

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