MAIZE — Maize coach Rocky Helm got just what he wanted out of his team's 12-2 win over Derby Tuesday night.
His starter, Gage Byers, threw an efficient game, and batters like Ross Cunningham capitalized with runners on base as Maize improved to 7-1 after the Game 1 victory.
Byers pitched a two-hit complete game for the Eagles, racking up 13 strikeouts in the process. He kept opponents off balance for the entirety of the game with a breaking fastball and a changeup that sent batters back to the dugout in a daze.
"I just worked the changeup outside," Byers said. "They usually can't touch it because it's a change of pace from the fastball."
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Byers was in the zone and retired six consecutive batters in the third and fourth innings with strikeouts. He also whiffed the final three batters in the sixth and only faced a total of 24 batters in his win.
Helm said Byers' ability to stay on the mound and reserve arms from the bullpen was key, especially in a doubleheader. The Eagles also have to play a doubleheader against Salina Central on Friday night.
"We were trying to go in and hopefully just use three guys so we can extend some guys of Friday," Helm said. "For him to throw a complete game was huge for us."
Byers did hit a snag in the top of the fifth inning when Derby infielder Zach Ashford hit a solo homerun to put a dent in the Maize lead at 8-2.
Cunningham delivered for the Eagles on the offensive end of things. The senior outfielder went 2 for 3 with a sacrifice fly and four RBIs. He drove in Shaun Reid and Byers from second and third to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead in the first. He batted in his fourth runner of the evening with a sacrifice fly to deep center field to extend his team's lead to 10-2 in the fifth.
"We work all the time on our hit and runs and driving the ball to opposite field," Cunningham said. "So we always want to drive in the runners. We wanted to put a big lead on Derby so Gage would have a lot of comfort, and I think we stayed pretty confident up there."
Maize12, Derby 2
Derby200 631 0 — 12 9 1 Maize100 010 0 — 2 2 1
W—Byers. L—Lankford. HR—Derby, Ashford.