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Late-inning magic lifts Monarchs to NBC win over Hays

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By Brad Hallier

The Hutchinson Monarchs left it late – very late – to get their hitting going Friday in their first game of the NBC World Series. But once the Monarchs got started, they were able to storm back for a memorable win at Wichita State’s Eck Stadium.

With nobody on base and two outs in the top of the eighth, the Monarchs began their comeback, culminating with a 6-4, 11-inning win over the Hays Larks. It wasn’t an eye-popping home run or even a bullet single to center field that started the rally.

It was an infield single by Will Edmunson. But that was the genesis of the comeback.

Max Buettenback followed with a single to right field, and Jaden Gustafson’s double cut Hays’ lead to 4-2.

Gustafson stole third base, and then scored on a wild pitch.

The Monarchs, silent through seven innings, all of a sudden trailed just 4-3.

They sent the game to extra innings with more two-out heroics in the ninth inning. Caleb Cotton doubled, scoring Blake Bradford, who had reached by fielder’s choice.

Hays loaded the bases in the 10th inning but came up empty.

The Monarchs punished the Larks for a couple of 11th-inning mistakes. With one out and nobody on base, Jarrett Flaggert reached on an error. Bradford was then hit by a pitch before Cotton launched a ground-rule double, scoring Flaggert.

Drew Bugner’s sacrifice fly scored Bradford.

Derick Johnson pitched a quick bottom of the 11th inning to earn the save. Reed Scott earned the win by pitching two shutout relief innings.

Hays had runners on base all game, but 16 stranded runners hurt the Larks.

Buettenback led the Monarchs with three hits, while Cotton, Edmunson and Flaggert had two hits apiece.

The Monarchs will continue pool play at 6 p.m. Sunday against the Seattle Blackfins, who are also 1-0. The top three teams in each of the four-team pools will advance to the single-elimination bracket. The pool winners get a bye to the quarterfinals.

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