STORY AND PHOTOS BY CAYDEN SANDERS
The Hays Larks opened league play on Tuesday at Larks Park against the Dodge City A’s. While the Larks had a 3-1 record to start the season, the A’s have competed in five games already. Dodge City opened their season against league foe, the Liberal Bee Jays, the Kansas Cannons, and the Great Bend Bat Cats. The game got off to a fast start for both teams, but the Larks secured the win, 10-2.
The Dodge City fans in attendance saw offense immediately as A’s leadoff hitter Kyle Morrel hit a home run to start the game. In the bottom part of the inning, the Larks’ offense responded as Tyler LaRue scored an RBI single to tie the game up 1-1. The A’s earned another run in the second inning as Tyler Cotto hit a home run off a hanging breaking pitch.
“I got to give it to Kaleb (Meredith), he gave up two home runs, but those were the only hits he gave up tonight,” Head Coach of the Larks Frank Leo said. “He’s a lefty that will throw good offspeed; he just left some of them hanging tonight, and those were some of the pitches they got ahold of.”
Palmer Hutchinson and the Larks ended the second inning by scoring another run with an RBI single. In the third inning, the Larks scored on an A’s error, giving the Larks a 3-2 lead.
“A sign of a good team is not to have just one good hitter, but you need multiple guys to contribute. It is nice to see that we are sharing the wealth, so to speak.” Leo said.
In his first appearance of the season, A’s pitcher Ben Smedshammer stopped the Larks’ offense for the rest of his outing as he went 6.0 innings. Given the tall order of facing the talented Larks’ offense, Smedshammer thought he performed well.
“I got to give props to them; they are all great hitters. I knew I had to compete and mix up my timing,” Smedshammer said, “Going through the lineup multiple times a game is never easy, but once I found my groove and settled in, it was easy because you learn how to attack each hitter throughout the game.”
In the latter half of the game, the Larks found a way to get the ball into play as Jack Torossian hit an RBI single. Later in the lineup, LaRue hits a sacrifice fly to end the 7th inning. In the 8th inning, the Larks scored on a wild pitch and later in the inning, Hays had the bases loaded and Austin Jaslove stepped up to the plate and hit a grand slam. The Larks put in reliever Chris Echavarria to finish the game.
“I liked how our guys kept after it on offense, Dodge made some plays to keep the game close, but I like how Torsy (Torossian) opened up the game for us at the end of the game,” Leo said
With the win, the Larks move to 4-1 on the season, earning their first win against a league opponent. The Larks start their first road trip this week as they travel to Colorado to take on the Gameday Saints and the Denver Cougars this Friday through Sunday. The Larks’ next home game is June 15th against the Colorado Roughriders.