Hays Larks

Larks hurtin’ for certain entering postseason

By Randy Gonzales

HAYS – Manager Frank Leo has seen nothing like it in his 37 years with the Hays Larks.
Leo knew he would be scrambling to find added pitching when the season started, but he
anticipated he would have the luxury of a deep group of position players who could fill in at
multiple spots.

 |  2019

Instead, injuries thinned the roster to the point that if the league commissioner did not
allow Leo to bring in a player to play third base for the regular-season finale, he would have had
to start a pitcher at the hot corner.
“It’s unfortunate, the hand we’re dealt,” Leo said. “We had 14 position players and some
flexibility. All of a sudden, we’re down to nine.”
The Larks were able to add an infielder for this weekend’s double-elimination
tournament for the top four teams in the KCLB after division winners Liberal Bee Jays and
Kansas Cannons, who will play for the berth into championship week at the NBC World Series
in Wichita. The winner of the league tournament will receive a spot in the first week of the
World Series. There was an allocation draft Friday for players from the four league teams that
did not make postseason. Hays selected Grant Lung, a third baseman and second baseman from
Valley Center. Lung led the Mud Daubers at the plate this summer, batting .325 with three
homers and 25 RBIs. Hays also added outfielder Jace Armstrong to the roster late in the season
for defense and pinch-running duties. Hays (29-9), the No. 1 seed, will play McPherson (13-25)
at 7 p.m. Saturday in Augusta.
“Now we’ve got to take this bunch of guys down to Augusta, try to win a league
tournament to get into the World Series,” Leo said.
The roster losses started with catcher-third baseman Hernan Yanez leaving in early July.
He had to get a job back home to help his family.
“That’s understandable,” Leo said. “His family needs him.”
About that same time, slick-fielding shortstop Matt Cavanagh, who also was having a
good season at the plate, hurt his back and was out for the season. Third baseman Brook Brannon
hurt his hamstring shortly after and also was lost for the summer. Infielder Skyler Luna, who hurt

his ankle early in the year and missed a good chunk of the season, was able to finally get back in
the lineup only to hurt his ankle again on Monday. His status for the rest of the season is
questionable.
It was the pitching staff that had Leo worried when the season started. Returning right-
hander Michael Wong, counted on by Leo to be the staff ace, had a shoulder problem during
college ball in the spring. After reporting to the Larks with hopes of pitching this summer,
Wong’s college team shut him down for the summer.
“We’ve been trying to add pitching to our staff since April,” Leo said.
The Larks did bring in knuckleballer Rustin Hays early in the summer, but lost left-
hander Mason Myhre due to illness in midseason. Left-hander Michael Gilliland, looked upon by
Leo as his No. 2 starter, was recently shut down for the rest of the summer by his college team.
The Larks did add left-hander Trevor Munsch late in the season, who has seen limited action.
“Injuries are going to happen,” Leo said. “You can’t change that.”


Randy Gonzales

Randy is a long time writer for various newspapers and has a passion for sports. He has been writing about the Hays Larks for years and we are proud to have him around!

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