By CAYDEN SANDERS
With the summer winding down, the Hays Larks’ season is slowly inching towards the postseason. While the chance of being a part of the NBC World Series is still a possibility for the Larks, they are in second place just behind the Liberal Bee Jays
The two teams begin a crucial series in the Rocky Mountain Baseball League on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. at Larks Park.
Prior to that series, though, the Larks hosted the Dodge City A’s, who were in third place in the RMBL.
But the A’s were no match for the Larks as the final was another blowout in seven innings. The Larks got the easy 12-2 victory Tuesday that keeps the Bee Jays just a half-game ahead of the Larks going into the final week of the regular season.
The game started with a Dodge City home run, giving the A’s a lead to start the game. It took the Larks until the fourth inning to heat up as Leo Jiminian returned from the World Baseball Series Championships and continued his hot bat. While he was gone, he hit lights out for the French national team as he finished the tournament with a .625 average, driving in seven runs and accounting for eight of his own. He also had three stolen bases.
That wasn’t the only runs scored for the Larks in the fifth inning as teammates Austin Jaslove and Dylan Dreiling scored as Dreiling hit another home run to right-center field. Hunter Rossen gave the Larks another RBI double. Brady Evans also joined in as he got a two-RBI single.
Garret Gruell was the final hitter to earn an RBI as he gave the Larks two more runs as the score after the fifth inning was 12-1. Dodge City scored in the top of the sixth, but it was not enough to beat the Larks.
With players coming to Kansas for summer baseball, the Dodge City A’s also have some players who are not from the region. Jacob Klinovsky, born and raised in California, has only competed against baseball players from the West Coast.
“Kansas summer baseball to California baseball has been something else,” he said. “I mean, I really enjoy the competition here. It’s a very good atmosphere. I’d say it’s like a Division I or II atmosphere here. You always see hundreds of people in the stands. And then Fourth of July was like 1,000 at Liberal. I’ve never done that, personally, myself. It was only parents and maybe occasional scouts or coaches.
“But I really enjoyed playing baseball in Kansas and I think it’s something I was really looking forward to going into this summer, and I am happy I did play summer ball out here.”
One thing Klinovsky said is the support in Kansas is like no other, as he has had small crowds at home and is happy to see fans in the stands. But another thing he enjoys about being in Kansas is having youngsters come up to him and ask him about everything and talk to him during the game.
“Honestly, I really enjoyed it. I think it’s great for them to pick our brains a little bit because we’ve been there,” he said. “We were on the other side of the fence talking to guys who were 18, 22 years old, like, ‘Hey, how do you get to where you are today?’ Like that’s what I would be asking them. I mean, if I have any advice for any of the younger kids, it’s (you never know what you can take from someone.) Because I’ve had the chance to talk to numerous guys who have been drafted, pro guys, or even former pro guys and called them to pick their brains a little bit.”
Klinovsky said it is also fun and important to interact with the next generation of baseball players.
“I got to meet him, or I know him, that was an autograph from him and have all these good memories,” he said. “Make it personal a little bit and just make everybody’s day a little bit brighter, which creates the atmosphere of like, ‘Hey, this thing is fun. Let’s go to more baseball games.’ Let the kids enjoy it. Let them have fun at the baseball field because that’s what they’re there for. I mean, one day they could be here playing with the Dodge City A’s or the Liberal Bee Jays or even the Hays Larks.”
Hays and Liberal battle for the RMBL regular season championship in Hays on Thursday and Friday. For the Larks to win the RMBL, they must beat the Bee Jays both nights to keep their championship hopes alive. First pitch for both games is set for 7:30 p.m. at Larks Park.