When five of the six teams from the Jayhawk League made the NBC World Series, some eyebrows were raised because the league didn’t have an excellent year _ El Dorado and Haysville combined to finish 25-43 in league play.
Those doubts are being put to rest as the Jayhawk League rolls through the tournament. The only team that lost its first game was Hays, and the Larks won three straight in the losers bracket prior to a Monday late-night game.
Every team in the league will finish with an even-or-better record. Haysville won its first two games before falling twice in less than 24 hours. El Dorado is in the winners bracket semifinals with a 3-0 record, and Dodge City is 3-1 after beating league foe Liberal on Monday. The Bee Jays finished the tournament with a 3-2 record.
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Overall, the league was 14-6 before Hays’ late game. The only team from the league that didn’t make the field was Derby.
"The strongest teams throughout the year were us and Hays and Liberal, there wasn’t any question about that," Dodge City manager Phil Stephenson said. "Haysville did some things to get a little better ... and Liberal has been pretty solid all year. El Dorado has made some changes and they’ve made themselves better and they’ve pitched extremely well."
Playing the matchups
Dodge City used four pitches in its 5-2 win over Liberal on Monday. Three relievers combined to allow two hits, but Stephenson opted to use matchups to put Liberal’s switch hitters to their weaker side.
Brennen Fleherty threw two pitches total while facing two batters and recording one out. Brandon Kirkham threw 1 2/3 perfect innings before he was removed with one out and nobody on base in the ninth.
Karch Kowalczyk made it interesting by allowing a hit and a walk in the ninth, but he struck out Liberal leadoff hitter Derek Miller to end the game.
"When you have 13 guys, you better make use of them," Stephenson said. "We’ve been getting great starting pitching. ...You’re in those situations, that’s why you pick up guys or have guys, so you can use them in those situations.
"Now we start Wednesday and it’s four games to win it all. Basically everybody who hasn’t thrown or is in the bullpen better be ready to pitch because every night it’s a battle to stay alive and keep yourself afloat and try to advance in this tournament."
About 29 hours after enduring a 16-inning, 2-1 win over San Diego, Nevada (Mo.) was back on the field Monday for an elimination game against Haysville.
The Heat played late Sunday, and it was clear both teams were running on fumes. Most of the runs in Nevada’s 7-6 win were scored on mistakes, such as errors, walks or other miscues.
The Griffons weren’t concerned with style points, however.
"I think every one we’ve had is a one-run game and we had the 16-inning game yesterday," Griffons outfielder MJ Sartin said. "It’s taking a lot out of us, but we’re just getting up and ready to go. I hardly have a voice right now because I’ve been yelling so much."
The Heat found out how cruel the schedule can be for teams who lose — they played consecutive tournament games after losing to Greeley (Colo.) in a game that began at 2:06 a.m. Monday morning. The Heat had about 15 hours of rest.
"A few hours later to come back, we did all right," Haysville manager said. "We didn’t hit the ball all year, and we didn’t hit in the tournament, either. That was our Achilles’ heel."
Greeley 7, Haysville 1
|Greeley||110||040||001||—||7 14 2|
|Haysville||000||100||000||—||1 5 3|
W — Ellison. L — Royal. S — Crawford.
Nevada 7, Haysville 6
|Haysville||000||311||010||—||6 12 1|
|Nevada, Mo.||130||003||00x||—||7 10 3|
W — Lytle. L — Rainey. S — Ford.
Dodge City 5, Liberal 2
|Dodge City||000||020||030||—||5 7 0|
|Liberal||001||000||100||—||2 8 2|
W — Justice. L — Bernardi. HR—Liberal: Sigado (1).