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Leo pleased with offense, lineup changes

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

Outfielder Desmond Roberts has flashed speed and power with the Hays Larks and batted in a variety of positions, including seventh and second for the 19-3 club, 13-3 Jayhawk League.

In the last three games, manager Frank Leo moved Roberts to ninth and put third baseman Ty Gilmore from ninth to second.

With leadoff hitter Aaron Cornell out of the lineup with a knee injury, Jake Platczek has moved to leadoff.

"With Cornell out of the lineup, we had to adjust some things around," Leo said.

Roberts, batting .280 this year, has gone 2 of 10 with a homer, two RBIs, six runs scored, three walks and four steals.

"(Roberts) turns that batting order over and gets on base, and he can run bases," Leo said. "He hits for power. Our lineup, one through nine, I am very comfortable with."

The Larks opened a three-game home series with Wellington on Saturday night at Larks Park.

Finding new players

During his thirty-plus years as Larks manager, Leo has built relationships with many college coaches. During the season, it's hard to find quality players. However, the Larks have added three who have already paid dividends in starting pitcher Colin Hightower (2-0, 2.13 earned-run average), pitcher Kyle Krings (3.00 ERA in two appearances) and infielder Brent Gillespie (.250 average).

"It's those connections," Leo said. "The Gillespie thing, it was very good timing."

Shortstop Elvin Rodriguez was very close to signing with independent baseball. NCAA Division I Youngstown State had just signed Gillespie. He was playing in a South Carolina league that wasn't strong or well-managed. His team was about to fold up.

Leo received an email asking if he needed a shortstop.

"We did," Leo said.

Gillespie is another left-handed bat in an already leftty-heavy lineup.

"It would have been nice to be a right-handed hitter, but he swings it good, he is very versatile," Leo said. "Made some nice plays at second base (Wednesday).

"Made a good play at short when we were in Derby. Feel comfortable with him, and he can also play some corner outfield."