ABOVE: Rusty Devitt prepares to make a pitch and catches the sign from catcher Toby Semler. Devitt allowed only one run though six innings, keeping Hays batters off-balance with a balanced pitching arsenal. Liberal took the win 4-3 to move to 10-2 and 3-2 in Jayhawk play.
By Rustin Watt
Leader & Times
Bee Jays starter Rusty Devitt had the Hays Larks number Tuesday night at Brent Gould Field, allowing only one on two hits as the Bee Jays bats were able to get timely hits in a 4-3 Liberal win.
“I thought they were good,” Liberal head coach Mike Silva said on the Larks. “I thought we did a good job, we got those four runs in that one inning and it doesn’t matter when you get them as long as you get more than they do.”
Both sides were held scoreless through two before the Larks scored their token run off Devitt on a sacrifice fly in the third.
Liberal quickly rebounded with all their run production coming in the third.
After Toby Semler walked and Reagan Pearson was beaned, Riley Good stepped in and slapped a hit past a diving second baseman for an RBI single. Eddie Arroyo advanced the runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Richard Bohlken scored two runs with a two-RBI standing double to make it a 3-1 contest.
First baseman Blake Bergeron wore a pitch to put runners on first and second for Jake Barrios who made his first start for the Bee Jays Tuesday night and recorded the fourth and final run for Liberal with an RBI single past the Hays shortstop.
“We had timely hits. We played really good defense, “ Silva said. “Barrios did a good job at shortstop and Bohlken came up with some big hits for us.”
Liberal carried their three-run lead into the fourth where Divett sat the Larks down, three-up-three-down. In the fifth Devitt was able to get a groundout to third baseman Bohlken before a runner reached on a tough hop to Arroyo. Arroyo quickly made up for the play turning a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning on the next batter.
In the sixth Devitt escaped out of a bases-loaded, two-out jam with a groundout to Arroyo.
“Sometimes you have to grind it out,” Devitt said. “And that was one of those innings.”
In the seventh, K-State’s Jared Moore took the hill for Liberal. A couple walks and hits falling in the right spots helped the Larks cut Liberal’s lead to one, 4-3, with two innings to go.
Curtis Washburn relieved Moore in the eighth and made quick work of Hays before Shocker closer Case Elam shut the door on the Larks in the ninth.
“The defense was great as usual,” Devitt said. “I know if a ball is in play that the play is going to be made. That’s just the confidence I have in our fellas. The offense usually is potent, and we had that one big inning tonight. The guys out of the pen were good, too. They kept us up, and we picked up the win tonight.”
With the win the Bee Jays moved to 10-2 on the season, 3-2 in conference. Liberal will take on the Larks again tonight at Brent Gould Field at 7 p.m. with J&R Sand as the buyout sponsor.
“Rockafellow will start (tonight),” Silva said on who was taking the hill. “And if we get any type of a start like we did from Rusty, I like our chances. He was really good.”
LEFT: Liberal Second basemen Eddie Arroyo turns a double play with Hay's runner Sean Wilson attempting to break up the play. Arroyo layed down a sacrifice bunt to move runners into scoring position in Liberal's four-run fourth. Liberal beat their Jayhawk opponent, 4-3. L&T photos/Rustin Watt