BY JIM MISUNAS
The American Legion baseball Great Bend Chiefs and Hays Eagles experienced a preview of postseason play Wednesday at the Great Bend Sports Complex.
The Chiefs and Eagles split a pair of hard-fought decisions that both went down to the game's final out in 100-degree heat. The Eagles rallied for a wild 9-7 opening victory. Paco Hernandez's game-winning single scored Jade Poe for a 4-3 Chiefs' victory in the nightcap.
The Chiefs carry an 11-player roster gaining experience while the Eagles feature an all-star lineup that qualified for 5A state baseball this spring. The Chiefs (4-2) and Eagles (6-3) will battle July 20-22 at Great Bend in AAA postseason play.
HAYS 9, CHIEFS 7 — Brady Kreutzer delivered a bases-loaded seventh-inning triple to rally the Eagles past the Chiefs. Blake Schmidt's leadoff single glanced off Edwin Chavez's glove. Jack Fields singled and Ben Krannawitter walked to load the bases for Kreutzer.
Hays reliever Jordan Dale pitched two innings to earn the victory.
The Eagles rocked Chiefs' starter Stefan Spray with Kreutzer's homer and Dalton Dale's two-run first-inning homer. The Chiefs responded with two unearned third-inning runs. Sage Koelsch scored on Paco Hernandez's groundball that was misplayed. Hernandez scored on Brad Beck's single.
A Chiefs error and walk led to two unearned fourth-inning runs. Kreutzer reached base on an error and scored on a throwing error. Dale doubled home Garrett Wellbrock. Dale scored on Remington Cox's sacrifice fly for a 6-2 lead.
Hays pitcher Carson Spray misplayed an Edwin Chavez pop fly that led to a four-run fourth inning. Stuhlsatz singled and scored on the Eagles' second error of the inning. Jade Poe singled home Chavez and Bradley Hopkins. Koelsch scored on a Hernandez groundball for a 6-6 tie.
Gavin Haberman scored on Hopkins' hustling fifth-inning RBI infield single for a 7-6 lead.
CHIEFS 4, HAYS 3 — Chiefs' reliever Stuhlsatz (1-1) pitched two scoreless innings to earn a hard-fought victory. The lefthander Stuhlsatz retired Schmidt and struck out Conner Dreiling to strand a pair of sixth-inning baserunners.
Chiefs starter Hernandez struck out six batters and kept the hard-hitting Eagles in check through five innings.
"Paco was rolling, but he has out of gas and left some pitches up," said Randy Beck. "Tyler threw strikes and Gavin Haberman and Mathew Moeder made defensive catches in the outfield. When your pitcher throws strikes, you play better defense."
Krannawitter scored on Wellbrock's first-inning sacrifice fly. Haberman's triple scored Stefan Spray and Mathew Moeder's second-inning double scored Haberman for a 2-1 lead.
Hernandez scored on a fourth-inning wild pitch for a 3-1 lead. A Chiefs' error led to a 3-3 tie when Krannawitter's single scored Dreiling and Jack Fields after a walk and an error.
But the Chiefs rallied when Poe singled and moved to second base on Wellbrock's sixth-inning wild pitch. Hernandez singled home Poe for the game-winner.
The Chiefs have played four one-run ballgames and all six games have been close.
"They're fun when you win them," Beck said.
The Chiefs play at 11 a.m. Sunday against CK Elite and 4 p.m. against the Larned Indians at the Greast Bend Sports Complex.
Hays 300 300 3 — 9 11 4
Great Bend 002 410 0 — 7 12 5
Carson Spray, Dale (6) and Kreutzer. Stefan Spray, Chavez (4) and Poe. W—Dale. L—Chavez, 0-1. 2B—GB—Koelsch; H—Wellbrock. 3B—H—Kreutzer. HR—H—Kreutzer, Dale
Hays 100 020 0 — 3 3 2
Great Bend 020 101 0 — 4 5 1
Wellbrock, Dale (6) and Cox. Hernandez, Stuhlsatz (6) and Beck. W—Stuhlsatz, 1-1. L—Wellbrock. 2B—GB—Mathew Moeder; H—Wellbrock. 3B—GB—Haberman
GREAT BEND CHIEFS (4-2)—W Dodge City 3-2 (W Spray 1-0); L Dodge City 4-7 (L Stuhlsatz 0-1); W Larned 5-4 (W Koelsch 1-0); W Larned 4-3 (W Poe 1-0); L Hays Eagles 7-9 (L Chavez 0-1); W Hays Eagles 3-2 (W Stuhlsatz 1-1); 6-20—Chiefs vs. SK Elite, 11 a.m.; Chiefs vs. Larned, 4 p.m.; 6-23—Dodge City at Chiefs (DH), 6; 6-25—Chiefs vs. Kansas Senators, noon (Buhler); 6-25—Chiefs vs. Salina Falcons, 4:20 (McPherson); 6-26—Chiefs at McPherson Tournament; 6-29—at Salina Falcons (DH), 6; 7-5—Chiefs at Larned (DH), 6; 7-9—Chiefs vs. Lincoln NE, Neb., 5:45; 7-10—Chiefs vs. SXF East, 1:15 p.m.; Chiefs vs. Kearney, Neb., 3:30; 7-20-22—AAA Zone (Chiefs, Newton, Hays Eagles)