PITTSBURG — There’s an old saying in baseball that if you go to enough games, you’ll see something you’ve never seen before. That was definitely the case Friday afternoon in the Hays Eagles’ final pool play game against Ottawa at the state American Legion Baseball Tournament. On another steamy afternoon with a heat index near 110 degrees, things got even hotter on the field and it had nothing to do with the weather.
With Hays leading 11-0 after three innings, Kansas American Legion baseball chairman Steve Queen approached the Eagles dugout and began talking with Hays head coach Tanner Willhoft and informed him the game was called.
"It's a shame the game had to end the way it did" said Hays Eagles board president Skip Cox. "Our boys were doing everything possible to give themselves a chance to advance to bracket play and had done nothing wrong."
Queen, who is from Ottawa, later explained that he called the game due to unsportsmanlike play by the Eagles who had stolen home on consecutive plays to push their lead to 11-0.
The American Legion Baseball Handbook defines "sportsmanship" as any player, coach, manager or other party accompanying a team will be ejected from the game from the time of the infraction if they use profane language, throw bats or other equipment, make unnecessary or obscene gestures to umpires, fans or opposing players or commit unnecessary roughness on the playing field.
The Eagles entered the game 0-2 in pool play after losing to Pittsburg on Wednesday and in extra innings to the Kansas Senators on Thursday. The top two teams from each pool advance to Saturday’s single elimination bracket play. The tie-breakers are best record, head-to-head, total runs allowed and total runs scored. If there is still a tie, a coin-flip determines who advances.
They entered Friday's game having allowed 22 runs. The Arrows entered having allowed 11 so at the time the game was called, the two teams had both given up 22 runs in pool play. To advance, the Eagles were going to have to allowed fewer runs than the Arrows and get the Senators to score 17 or more against Pittsburg in Friday's late game.
Queen stated there is a 10-run cap on runs scored and runs allowed in each game, however this is not stated in the national tournament rules. The Kansas rules state they will go by national policies.
The Eagles got off to a quick start, scoring three runs with two outs in the bottom of the first. Garrett Wellbrock and Dalton Dale both singled then scored on Carson Spray’s two-run double. Remington Cox followed with a single to drive in Spray.
Hays added four more runs in the second. After leading off the inning with a walk, Bradyn Dreher scored on Ben Krannawitter’s double. Brady Kreutzer followed with a double which scored Krannawitter. Garrett Wellbrock doubled to right and later scored on a wild pitch.
The Eagles scored four in the third after their first six batters reached safely on three walks, two singles and a fielder’s choice. Caden Morgan drove in the first run with a base hit to left. Kreutzer drew a bases-loaded walk. Krannawitter and Kreutzer both stole home on consecutive plays to end the scoring and start the fireworks.
Starter Blake Schmidt left after one inning with arm pain. Caden Morgan came in relief and pitched two scoreless innings and picked up his first Senior Legion win.
Wellbrock had two hits while Kreutzer and Spray both drove in two runs.
The Eagles end their season 20-6.
Disclosure: Ron Fields and Gerard Wellbrock of Eagle Radio / Hays Post are members of the Hays Eagles board of directors.