GREAT BEND – The Hays Eagles Senior American Legion baseball team overcame a three-run first inning deficit and beat the Great Bend Chiefs 7-4 Wednesday to win the American Legion AAA Zone 3 Tournament at Lawson-Biggs Field.
The Eagles (19-4) have won 12-straight and advance to next week’s state American Legion tournament in Pittsburg.
The third inning proved to be the decisive inning. The Eagles (19-4) scored four in the frame and never trailed again. Ben Krannawitter was hit by a pitch to start the inning. He scored on a Brady Kreutzer double. Garrett Wellbrock drew a four-pitch walk and later scored the tying run on a Remington Cox two-out single to left. Jack Fields then followed with a double to left-center which scored courtesy runner Conner Dreiling with the go-ahead run.
“Once we got up there, I felt like they kind of settled down and started playing more of our game” said coach Tanner Willhoft. “A little bit nervous to start it out but when you get in a series clinching game like that it is one of those things.”
Carson Spray would drive in Brady Kreutzer with a sacrifice fly in the fourth to push the Eagles lead to 6-3. They would add another run in fifth when Ben Krannawitter reached on a two-out error scoring Fields who singled to start the inning.
Great Bend (17-9), who scored two in the first then held on to knock off Newton 2-1 in an elimination game earlier in the day, took advantage of two walks and hit batter to load the bases with no outs in the sixth. They scored a run on a passed ball but Dalton Dale got a strikeout and pop up to end the threat. The Chiefs got two on in the seventh but a ground out and strikeout ended the game.
Blake Schmidt (5-0) walked two and gave up three hits and three runs in the first but followed with four scoreless innings and picked up the win. Schmidt went five innings and allowed four runs (three earned) on three hits with seven walks, two hit batters and two strikeouts.
“I think Blake really settled in” said Willhoft. “For somebody who’s a younger kid, comes back, tough spot to come in, could have done way worse than what he did.”
Dalton Dale allowed one hit with two strikeouts and two walks and got the final six outs to close out the game.
Brady Kreutzer, Garrett Wellbrock, Remington Cox and Jack Fields all had two of the Eagles nine hits. Cox, Fields and Kreutzer all hit doubles.
The Eagles will now play in the AA/AAA American Legion State Tournament which begins Wednesday in Pittsburg.