HAYS — The Great Bend Chiefs and Dodge City Rangers find themselves in the same exact situation entering today’s final round of the Class AAA American Legion zone baseball tournament at Larks Park as Monday.
The same can be said for the Hays Eagles, although the stakes are much higher.
Top-seeded Hays, like it did Monday evening, will meet the winner of Great Bend and Dodge tonight. But this time, the zone championship and a berth in the state tournament in Manhattan will be at stake.
Like the Chiefs’ Nick Ney, Hays’ Austin Unrein’s pitch count was soaring. And, like Ney, Unrein pitched his team to victory in its first zone game.
Unrein, who has signed to play baseball for Kansas City Kansas Community College in the fall, was dominating in striking out 13 batters and yielding only five hits through eight innings during a 9-4 victory over the Chiefs. His pitch count was over 140 when he was finally lifted.
With the loss, Great Bend (11-15) takes on Dodge City today in an elimination game at 4. The title game is set for around 6:30.
Great Bend right-hander Bryce Beck kept the Chiefs in the game, allowing only five runs through the first seven-plus innings. But the Eagles (40-8), despite stranding 12 baserunners, kept themselves out of arm’s reach, capped by scoring four runs in the eighth off reliever Braden Jones.
Jace Bowman finished 3-for-4 at the plate to lead Great Bend, which scored a single run in the ninth on his RBI double.
Connor Sell finished with a single and a double in three official at-bats.
On the flip side, Dakota Conaway, Daniel Herrman and Bryce Hofmeiser each struck out three times in the game for the Chiefs, who didn’t have a baserunner venture past first base through the first four innings.
Riley Kaus led Hays’ 15-hit attack, going 3-for-4 and driving in three runs. Hayden Hutchinson and Jarrett Sanders each had RBI doubles, and Zack Legleiter had a run-scoring triple for the Eagles. Sanders finished with two RBIs.
CLASS AAA AMERICAN LEGION
ZONE BASEBALL TOURNAMENT
Hays Eagles 9,
Great Bend Chiefs 4
123 456 789 R H E
GB 000 010 111 — 4 6 3
Hays 102 010 14x — 9 15 0
Bryce Beck, Braden Jones (7) & Mitch Kottas; Austin Urein, Tyler Wooldridge (8) & Jarrett Sanders. W — Unrein. L — Beck. 2B — Hays: Sanders, Hayden Hutchinson; Great Bend: Connor Sell, Jace Bowman. 3B — Hays: Zack Legleiter.