BY JIM MISUNASS
HAYS — The chances for the American Legion Great Bend Braves melted away in Wednesday’s scorching Kansas heat.
The Olathe Royals rolled past the Braves 11-1 in the Class A Legion state baseball opener in 103-degree heat with a heat index of 106 on the artificial turf at Hays High. The Royals beat the Braves for the second year in a row after they eliminated the Braves at last year’s A state tournament at Great Bend.
“Give Olathe credit,” said Braves coach Travis Kurth. “We played against a good ballclub. Their pitchers threw a lot of strikes.”
The Royals rapped out 11 hits and took advantage of seven walks, a hit batter and seven stolen bases. The Royals scored two runs on productive outs and a third run on a hit batter with the bases loaded.
“Olathe came out and played well from the start,” Kurth said. “They hit the baseball and put it in play.”
Olathe’s Joe Michalski drove in three runs and Liam Deegan and Jack Clayton each drove in two runs. Five Braves pitched to preserve pitching for a possible run in the loser’s bracket.
The Royals scored two runs in the first and third innings. They added a run in the fourth inning and three runs in the fifth and sixth innings.
Winning pitcher Clayton advanced to home twice on the back end of a double steal. The Braves also had an opportunity to throw baserunner Michalski out at second base and Clayton out at home, but failed to execute smoothly.
“We had defensive plays on, once to throw through to get the runner at second, and once we had a chance at home,” Kurth said. “You’ve got to execute those plays.”
The Braves’ Townshend Kurth and Jesus Bujanda each delivered two hits and the Braves stranded three baserunners in scoring position. Catcher Michalski slowed down the Braves’ running game by throwing out Kurth on a first-inning steal attempt.
The Braves hit seven fly ball outs and struck out three times.
Pinch runner Christian Zahnter scored the Braves run on an error after running for Dalton Barfield after a fifth-inning single.
“We didn’t string hits together,” Kurth said. “That was the story of the day. We hit the ball hard a few times. We just didn’t play great baseball today.”
AMERICAN LEGION A STATE, HAYS
Olathe Royals 11, Great Bend Braves 1
Andover Jaguars 11, Salina Hawks 8
Andover Trojans 6, Chapman 0
Emporia 12, Hays Eagles 0
GB Braves 17, Salina Hawks 4
Chapman 7, Hays Eagles 6
Olathe Royals 34-5 vs. Andover Jaguars 23-11
Andover Trojans vs. Emporia 22-1
Game 9, 10 a.m.—Great Bend Braves 27-14 vs. Hays Eagles-Chapman winner
Game 10, 12:30 p.m.—Chapman irish vs. loser game 7
Game 11, 6 p.m.—Winners bracket final, winners 7, 8
Game 12, 8:30 p.m.—Winners games 9, 10
Game 13, 10 a.m.—Losers bracket final, winner game 12 vs. loser game 11
Game 14, 12:30 p.m.—Winners game 11, 13
Game 15, 10 a.m.—Winner game 14 vs. loser game 14 (if needed)
OLATHE 11, BRAVES 1
Olathe 202 133 — 11 11 2 `
Braves 000 010 — 1 6 1
Clayton, Collins (4) and Micahalski. Hall, Soupiset (3), Christiansen (4), Smith (4), Olivas (6) and E. Bujanda. W—Clayton. L—Hall. 2B—OR—Clayton.