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Monday
December 09th, 2019

L&T staff report

After being in the same leagues with Liberal since 1976, the Hays Larks will no longer be affiliated with the Bee Jays in the same league.

According to an article in the Hays Post, the Larks are leaving the Kansas Collegiate League to join the Rocky Mountain Baseball League.

The Larks and Bee Jays played in the Jayhawk League form 1976 until 2018 when the league dissolved when several teams in Eastern Kansas abandoned the league to join teams closer to Wichita.

The two teams played one year together in the KCLB before the Larks bolted for the RMBL.

According to the Hays Post, Larks Manager Frank Leo said the Larks have been considering the move for quite some time.

“It’s something we’ve been talking about, trying to make sure we get the right kind of competition for our players to compete against and we just felt joining the RMBL would be the best fit for us” Leo said. “The teams out there are all willing to travel into Hays which helps fill out home schedule.”

Travel has been the biggest challenge for summer leagues, and the Larks said only two KCLB teams were willing to travel to Hays for games.

That leaves the Dodge City A’s and Liberal Bee Jays as the only two teams in Western Kansas, and the question of travel still has to be resolved.

“That was one of the drawbacks of the KCLB,” Leo told the Hays Post. “Teams there were kind of restricted a little bit in their budgets and not able to do extensive traveling but the teams out in the RMBL are willing to do that. We’ve played several of those teams and, the competition out there was good then they came to Hays to play us.”

The Bee Jays won the KCLB league title in their first year in the league, but the Larks struggled against Liberal and Dodge City before posting a record of 15-1 against the rest of the league.

But the Bee Jays earned the automatic bid to Championship Week at the NBC World Series.

The RMBL also has an automatic qualifier to Championship Week and The First Week play-in tournament, and the RMBL teams have not fared well at the World Series, giving the appearance that Hays is looking for an easier path to the NBC World Series.

The Larks will make the RMBL a nine-team league including the Colorado Sox, Denver Cougars, Colorado Pirates, Game Day Saints, Colorado Roughriders, Boulder Collegians, Colorado Springs Renegades and Fort Collins Foxes.

The Larks will have a 32-game league schedule with 18 of those games being played in Hays — this season.

“It’s going to make for some longer road trips,” Leo said. “It could be a six-day road trip and two four-day road trips to get our 14 games in out in Colorado.”

But the Bee Jays have no plans to seek another league.

“The Bee Jays are very happy with our place in the KCLB,” Bee Jay General Manager Nathan McCaffrey said. “We had a very positive experience in 2019, and believe it will only get better. We’ve seen an increased willingness in the Wichita area teams to travel as we’ve been working on the schedule for 2020.  We’ve had a great history with Hays as our league rival, and will try and continue that with some non-league games if schedules fit.  We also look forward to developing new rivalries with teams in the KCLB.” 

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