By JEREMIAH WILSON
• Leader & Times
Two games into the 79th NBC World Series, the Liberal Bee Jays had failed to produce much offense. In their third game Monday night, all of that changed in a 4-2 victory over the Houston Tuzos.
The Bee Jays had a total of 14 hits combined between their first two games in Wichita. Monday afternoon, they pounded the Houston pitchers for 12 hits, including two doubles, a triple and a home run.
Left fielder Jason Dahl led the way for Liberal, going 2-for-4 with an in-the-park home run in the second that gave the Bee Jays a 2-0 lead. Dahl finished with three RBIs and a run scored. Third baseman Brady Capshaw also had a big day, going 2-for-3 with three runs scored.
It was the two-run shot in the second that opened the scoring in the game. Capshaw was on first at the time, having reached base on an infield single.
Capshaw scored again in the fourth when right fielder Lewis Guilbeau hit a one-out, bases-loaded single. The Bee Jays failed to take further advantage in the inning and left the bases loaded.
The duo of Capshaw and Dahl struck once again in the fifth. With Capshaw on first, Dahl nailed a 1-1 offering for a triple, and Capshaw scored his third run of the game.
“They’re two experienced hitters,” Liberal manager Brandon Kitch said. “They’ve been around the game for a long time, and they know how to hit. They don’t strike out much. It’s impressive to watch them compete for hits in their at-bats.”
Starting pitcher Cody Tillotson was in complete control on the mound. Tillotson went seven innings and allowed just one hit, struck out five and walked five.
“His performance was outstanding,” Kitch said. “We needed him to go deep in the game. He did a great job for us, and that’s the kind of start we needed from him.”
Reliever Joe Wahl took the mound for the eighth, and struggled in his one inning of work. Wahl gave up the only two Houston runs on three hits in the eighth.
Dillon Endacott came on in the ninth and picked up the save for the Bee Jays, striking out one.
Despite the 12 hits, the top of the lineup continued to struggle for Liberal. Shortstop Tanner Kirk and second baseman Darien McLemore went a combined 0-for-8 with three strikeouts. The two have gone 0-for-28 in the tournament through the first three games.
“I’m going to take those two and work with them today,” Kitch said, “so that maybe we won’t have to make a change at the top of our line-up.”
Even with the top of the line-up in a slump, the Bee Jays still found a way to produce hits and runs. Every other hitter in the lineup managed at least one hit in the game Monday.
“We swung the bats real well last night,” Kitch said. “We would have liked to have scored a few more runs, but we’re happy to see some improvement and come away with a win.”
Liberal will continue their march toward Championship Week at 10 p.m. tonight, when they take on Kansas Alumni.
Left hander Chad Rieser, a newcomer to the team from the Dodge City A’s, will take the mound tonight for the game against Kansas Alumni.