EMPORIA, Kan. – The Hays Eagles Senior American Legion watched their season end from the stands Friday night as the Nickerson Panthers run-ruled the Topeka Senators 10-1 after four innings and advanced to Saturday’s AAA state semi-finals.
Prior to the heartbreak, was a rollercoaster of emotions in a 3-2 thrilling victory as Hays scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh and final inning to hand Emporia Post 5 their first loss of the tournament. Coming into Friday evening’s game, Hays was 1-1 in pool play and desperately needing a win to keep their chances alive of advancing to Saturday’s semi-finals.
Head Coach Dustin Schumacher
Emporia started the game with a 1-0 lead after Cole Moore hit an RBI single to bring home Beau Baumgardner in the top of the first inning. Both teams would be scoreless until the bottom of the fourth when Hays tied it up on an error by Emporia third baseman Sawyer Slayden that scored Trey Riggs from third to tie the game at 1-1.
After a scoreless fifth, Emporia’s Cole Moore came through again with an RBI single to score Slayden, making it 2-1 Emporia in the top of the sixth. Hays pitcher Cole Murphy, who went all seven innings in the victory, got three straight outs in the top of the seventh to give Hays one final chance at tying or winning the game in the bottom of the seventh.
Brett Herrman lead off the bottom of the seventh pinch-hitting for Willie Sennett and reached base on balls before moving to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Dawson Harman. Brady Kreutzer hit a single to move Herrman to third. Jamison Martin then hit a big-time RBI single to score Herrman and tie the game at 2-2. Emporia intentionally walked Palmer Hutchison to load the bases with one out for Trey Riggs. Riggs hit a ground ball and Emporia got Kreutzer out at home on a fielder’s choice for the second out of the inning. Cody Peterson would come up next and hit a ground ball at the Emporia second baseman who mis-played the ball and Martin came home on the error to give Hays the victory.
Murphy went a complete game and got the win, throwing 99 pitches and giving up four hits and one earned run while striking out five and walking four.
Martin was 2-4 with an RBI and run scored. Harman was 1-1 with a sacrifice and walk. Hays as a team was 3-23 at the plate with one RBI and seven walks and left five on base. The defense committed two errors.
Despite going 2-1 in pool play and defeating Emporia Post 5, the Eagles needed Nickerson (who beat Hays Wednesday) to either lose or give up five runs to Topeka in the late game Friday night. Instead, Nickerson won and advances to the semi-finals with Emporia, Salina and Newton. Hays’ season ends at 34-6-1.