HAYS – The final day of the AA/AAA State American Legion baseball tournament produced three dramatic finishes, including a pair of walk-off wins, and when all way said and done Saturday it was Emporia Post 5 claiming the state championship with a 7-5 win over the Hays Eagles at Larks Park in Hays.
Dustin Schumacher postgame interview
In the first semifinal of the day the Sabetha scored three early runs and lead the Hays Eagles 4-2 heading into the bottom seventh but Hays got back-to-back walks to open the frame and then Trey Riggs singled in a pair of run to tie the game at two. Then, following a sacrifice bunt Brady Kreutzer delivered a walk-off RBI single giving Hays the 5-4 win.
In the second semifinal game Emporia and Iola battled for 11 innings before Jace Stewart singled in the game-winning run in a 3-2 Emporia win.
That set up the state championship game between the host Eagles and Emporia. The Eagles beat Emporia in the second game of pool play on Thursday and Emporia beat the Eagles in a tournament in Emporia earlier this season.
The Eagles, as the visiting team, struck for two runs in the first inning. With the bases loaded Brady Kreutzer doubled to left field to give Hays a 2-0 lead. Emporia answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning tying the game at two.
After a pair of scoreless innings Tate Garcia and Cody Petersen drove in a pair of runs on back-to-back RBI singles in the fourth to give Hays a 4-2 lead.
Kreutzer drove in his third run of the game with he second run scoring double in the fifth putting Hays up 5-2.
Emporia’s Beau Baumgardner hit a two-run homerun in the bottom of the fifth to cut the Hays lead to 5-4.
In the sixth inning, with Hays still clinging to a one run lead it appeared that Eagles starter Tate Garcia had recorded a strikeout of Cade Kohlmeier to end the inning. But the third base umpire overturned the home plate umpire’s call of a strikeout swinging. He ruled that Kohlmeier foul-tipped the pitch. With the extra chance Kohlmeier singled two pitches later starting a rally that was capped off by a three-run double by Hayden Baumwart that gave Emporia a 7-5 lead.
In the top of the seventh inning Hays got the tying run aboard with no outs but were unable to push across a run in the inning as the Eagles fell to Emporia 7-5.
Tate Garcia suffered the loss for Hays, he allowed seven runs on seven hits with six strikeouts in 5.2 innings.
Kreutzer was three-for-four with three RBI’s.
Hays finished the year 34-7.