Everything about Luis Diaz’s college statistics suggest he’s a leadoff hitter — he steals bases, bunts for hits, scores a lot of runs and draws a lot of walks.
So it appeared Diaz was escaping his comfort zone batting third for Liberal, but Diaz has always hit third. He just doesn’t fit the mold.
In Liberal’s 3-2 loss to San Diego on Saturday in the first round of the National Baseball Congress World Series’ opening week, Diaz continued to display traits that might be better suited for the top of the order.
Diaz had two bunt singles, a walk, two stolen bases and two runs. He’s not a No. 3 hitter who threatens for extra-base hits in every at-bat, but he finds other ways to be dangerous.
“As a three-hole hitter, (infielders) play you back so I try to take advantage of everything I can,” Diaz said. “I try to get a base hit — if I can’t do it with a swing, I’m going to lay one down like I did today.”
Diaz played for the Dodge City A’s during the summer but was picked up by fellow Jayhawk League team Liberal when the A’s failed to advance to the tournament.
While Diaz batted .213 for the A’s, he apparently made enough of an impression on Liberal coach Brandon Kitch, who slotted Diaz in the middle of the Bee Jays’ lineup.
In a tournament where power is at a premium because of wood bats and a pitcher-friendly Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, Diaz’s tools are just as handy as those of a prototypical No. 3 hitter.
“I can hit for power,” Diaz said. “I just feel like, if they’re going to give me a hit, eight times out of 10 I’m going to be safe if I lay (a bunt) down. I’m going to take advantage of that. If I’m swinging the bat well, I’m going to hit. If I need to get something going in a close game, I’m going to put something down to get on base and let my team do the work.”
Liberal received a bid to the tournament after another team dropped out just before it started. As the fourth-place team in the Jayhawk, the Bee Jays were just on the outside of teams to receive automatic berths.
Now that it’s in the losers bracket, Liberal is taking the same approach as it did about receiving a second chance in the tournament. The Bee Jays’ pitching may be in rough shape following a 13-inning loss, and they may have to win up to seven games to advance to Championship Week, but that doesn’t discourage them. They play Saturday at 8 a.m.
“I’m glad we got to come back,” Kitch said. “I think this team, and I hope this team, will come back and make some noise. We’ve still got some arms left that can come in and shut the door for (Saturday).”
Alumni falls in 13th
Adam Blum scored on an error by Alumni pitcher Jared Simon as Chase Fieldhouse's attempted squeeze bunt bounced directly back to Simon. He bobbled it, giving the Capahas their second run of the 13th, the game-winner in a 5-4 victory. Blum tripled in the tying run one batter earlier.
After Matt Baty's leadoff single in the top of the 13th, the following two Alumni players were retired. With Baty on second after a stolen base, Plaza Tire intentionally walked 45-year-old former Kansas City Royals outfielder Brian McRae and hit Ryan Hege to load the bases. Adam McCormick walked on a full count to put the Alumni ahead 4-3.
The Alumni scored three runs in the fifth to take a 3-2 lead, but the Capahas scored in the fifth to tie it. The teams went scoreless for the next seven innings.
Denver Cougars 5, Newton Rebels 4, Newton eliminated
Austin Gold Sox 4, Jasper (Ind.) Reds 1, Jasper eliminated
San Diego Force 3, Liberal Bee Jays 2, 13 innings
Cape Girardeau (Mo.) Capahas 5, Kansas Alumni 4, 13 innings
Kansas Cannons vs. Colorado Cardinals
Force 3, Bee Jays 2
|Kirk ss||6||0||0||0||Loud cf||6||1||2||0|
|McLemore 2b||5||0||0||0||Williams rf||4||1||1||0|
|Tillotson 1b||5||2||2||0||Boggan 1b||6||0||0||0|
|Stevens dh||5||0||1||1||Leary dh||4||0||0||0|
|Nevarez ph||0||0||0||0||Scheiwe pr||0||1||0||0|
|Mestas pr||0||0||0||0||Schulz lf||5||0||3||2|
|Capshaw 3b||6||0||1||1||Nordgren 3b||4||0||1||0|
|Dahl rf||4||0||2||0||Heerdt p, ss||6||0||1||1|
|Floyd c||5||0||0||0||Walters c||4||0||0||0|
|Reding lf||5||0||1||0||Esser ph||1||0||0||0|
|Rainey cf||5||0||1||0||Crouse c||0||0||0||0|
LOB— Liberal 9, San Diego 13. 2B— Stevens, Schulz, Nordgren. HP — Williams 2. SB — Tillotson 2, Dahl, Rainey. CS — Tillotson.
|Nack L||1 1/3||3||1||1||2|
WP — DeMar. Umpires—Home, Mike Lentz; first, Ben Harlow; second, Conan Strobel.
Capahas 5, Alumni 4
|Waters rf||3||1||0||0||Kimball 2b||6||0||1||0|
|Brown rf||3||0||1||0||Caveness cf||5||0||1||0|
|Baty 2b||6||1||2||1||Parmley ss||5||1||1||0|
|McBratney lf||6||0||1||0||Campbell 1b||6||0||1||0|
|Scram cf||4||0||1||0||Hagedorn c||5||0||1||0|
|Magness 1b||4||0||0||0||Connor 3b||6||1||3||1|
|McDonald ph||1||0||0||0||Bennett dh||5||1||1||0|
|McRae 1b||0||0||0||0||Blum rf||5||1||1||1|
|Hege dh||4||1||2||0||Fieldhse lf||5||1||1||0|
E— Baty, McBratney, Tessendorf, Simon. DP— Alumni 1, Capahas 2. LOB— Alumni 10, Capahas 12. 2B— McBratney, Hege, Weber, Hagedorn. 3B — McCormick, Blum. SB — Maty, Scram, Parmley. CS — Baty, Scram. S — Weber, Tessendorf, Fieldhouse.
HBP — by Stoner (Bennett), by Marshall (Hege).
Cougars 5, Rebels 4
|Denver||112||000||100||—||5 14 2|
|Rebels||200||000||020||—||4 10 6|
W — Young. L — Peacock. S — Koch.
Gold Sox 4, Reds 3
|Jasper||000||001||000||—||1 4 3|
|Austin||003||100||00x||—||4 5 0|
W — Wilson. L — Mills. S — Dumaine.
Generals 8, Diablos 0
|Felix ss||3||0||1||0||Lois ss||5||0||2||1|
|Collier cf||2||0||0||0||Richmond c||2||1||0||0|
|Cordva lf-ph||1||0||0||0||Prieto 2b||4||2||0||0|
|Villalbos 3b||3||0||2||0||Garrison 3b||4||2||2||0|
|Lucero c||3||0||0||0||Borgschlt cf||2||0||2||3|
|Molina dh||3||0||0||0||Ferguson lf||4||1||0||1|
|Gerero cf-rf||2||0||0||0||Reed 1b||3||1||0||0|
|Kinney 1b||2||0||0||0||Blacksher dh||3||0||0||0|
|Lobato 1b||1||0||0||0||Woods dh-ph||1||0||0||0|
|Hill lf||2||0||0||0||Heideman rf||4||1||2||1|
E— Felix, Villalobos, Lucero, Kinney, Gahan. DP— Ozark 1. LOB— Albuquerque 2, Ozark 9. 2B— Garrison, Borgschulte, Heideman. SB — Villalobos, Richmond, Borgschulte. CS — Felix, Borgschulte.
WP — Nason (1). Umpires—Home, Conan Strobel; first, Travis Olson; second, Mike Lentz..