It took a little while for the Dodge City Rangers to warm up in their season opening American Legion contest against the Hays Eagles at Demon Field.
Once they warmed up, nothing was going to stop them as they scored three in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings and the game-winner in the ninth for a 4-3 victory in the first game of a doubleheader.
The Rangers completed the sweep with a 6-3 victory over the Eagles in the nightcap.
Austin Weiser struck out 12 to record the complete game victory for the Rangers in the opener, nine after the fifth inning as he settled down. Weiser gave up single runs in the first, second and fourth innings.
"I just felt like I was getting stronger as the innings got later," Weiser said. "I just tried to settle down and throw strikes and let my defense make the plays. We were just trying to get back in the groove with this game."
The Rangers couldn't find an answer against Hays starting pitcher Kyler Niernberger for the first six innings. Niernberger gave up only one hit and had to deal with only three base runners before the sixth as the Eagles were making the plays behind him to keep the three-run lead.
Hays scored their runs on a RBI double by Layne Downing in the first, and RBI singles by Clayton Basgall and Jake Sedbrook in the second and fourth, respectively.
Dodge City got its comeback to tie the game by getting the first three runners into scoring position with two errors, a single and a walk. Collin Gifford knocked in one run with a single and Drew Chance knocked in a second run on a fielder's choice. Grant Meininger tied the game when Hays committed a throwing error trying to make a double play on Chance.
The Rangers closed out the game in the ninth inning when Gifford opened with a single and went to third on an Eagles' error from a ball hit by Chance (who went to second on the play). Hunter Ontiberos then hit a single through the drawn-in infield to score Gifford and give the home team the win.
"It was a fast ball down the zone a little high," Ontiberos said. "It was a 2-0 count, so I knew I would get something to hit. I just wanted to put the ball in play because they were in. A fly ball would have won the game for us also."
Dodge City got a run in the bottom of the first of the nightcap on a RBI double by Jordan Doan before the Eagles were able to take the lead by the bottom of the fourth inning.
The Rangers scored four in the frame on a RBI single by Adam Balderaz, followed by a bases-loaded triple by Dillon Roy to make the score 5-2. Dodge City's final run came in the fifth on a RBI fielder's choice by Weiser.
Page 2 of 2 - "They battled back and never gave up and we ended up with a sweep over a good team," said Rangers head coach Taylor Doan. "We had clutch hits from different people to help us win both games tonight."