HHS baseball falls to Salina Central
By NICK McQUEEN
By NICK McQUEEN
A couple of bad plays early ended up costing the Indians.
But outside of a rough second inning Friday night in a 3-2 loss to Salina Central in the second day of the Western Plains Diamond Classic, Hays High School coach Frank Leo was pleased with the way the Indian club came back and competed against one of the better pitchers Hays High had seen this season.
“We knew it was going to be a close game, and whoever made mistakes was probably going to come out on the short end,” Leo said. “We made some mistakes early in that ball game.”
The Salina Central win snapped the Indians' eight-game winning streak, and wrapped up the Diamond Classic title with one game left Saturday. Hays High (11-6) had won three of the previous four tourney titles. Salina Central (7-8) claimed its first tourney championship since 2008, and fourth overall.
“Our guys were in a good mood coming into this tournament,” Leo said. “They were playing well, playing well together as a team.
“It's just one of those things in baseball that happens,” he added. “We couldn't make the stop. When one error happens, you have to kind of step back and 'flush it out,' and get ready for the next play, and we didn't do that.”
Senior left-hander Kade Parker had his worst outing of the season on the mound in terms of walks, but still allowed just three runs (two earned) in taking the complete-game loss.
The Indians had an error in the first inning and a mishandled ball on a double play attempt that led to a 1-0 lead for the Mustangs, then had a throwing error that ended up in a run to give Salina Central a 3-0 lead in the second.
“We gave them two runs in that second inning they shouldn't have had,” Leo said. “I thought it would be a 2-1, 3-2 type ball game, but I didn't anticipate us to give them a couple runs.”
The Indians scored their two runs in the bottom of the second on a wild pitch and a bases-loaded walk by starter J.W. Maldaner, who picked up the complete-game victory. After the second, Maldaner retired 11 straight Indian batters, before he walked Parker in the sixth.
Parker (4-2, 0.57 earned-run average), who had only allowed three walks prior to Friday's start, walked five and struck out six in the loss.
Hays High got a runner to third in the sixth, but couldn't convert, then Adam Klaus — pinch running for Jared Haynes' two-out single in the seventh — got caught stealing third to seal the win for the Mustangs.
Sophomore Dalton Stout popped up a full-count pitch for the third out in the sixth with a runner at third.
“He didn't want to be denied,” Leo said of Stout, who had one of three Indian hits in the two-run second. “He didn't get the hit, but he took some very good swings (in a key situation).”
Hays High was scheduled to play Goddard on Saturday in the tournament finale, then travels to Liberal on Tuesday for a shot to clinch the Western Athletic Conference Championship. More importantly, HHS is looking to clinch a good seed for the upcoming Class 5A regional.
“I felt good about the way we competed (Friday),” Leo said. “This is the kind of pitcher we're going to see if we want to get to a state tournament.
“If we want to beat a Bishop Carroll or a Goddard-Eisenhower in a championship game at sub-state, this is what we have to beat,” he added. “After tonight, I feel better about our chances of doing that.”