By FHSU SPORTS INFORMATION
Despite another solid pitching performance from the Tiger pitching staff, the Fort Hays State baseball team could not get over the hump Saturday (March 7) as 15th-ranked Central Oklahoma took game two of the series, 4-1. Fort Hays State is now 11-10 (1-4 MIAA) on the season while the Bronchos improved their record to 15-3 (4-1 MIAA).
The Tiger offense crossed the plate once behind just three hits on the afternoon. Their only run of the game came during their half of the first inning. Griffin Brunson lead the inning off with an infield single to short, beating out the throw to get things started for the Tigers. Two batters later, Grant Schmidt sent another ground ball to short, but a throwing error landed him safely on first. As the ball trickled in to the right field foul territory, Brunson sprinted home, sliding in safely after another Broncho throwing error.
Fort Hays State positioned itself with an opportunity to take the lead in the second. After laying down a bunt, Drake Angeron was able to get to first safely after the catcher sailed the ball past first base. The speedy centerfielder then swiped second to get into scoring position with just one out. Jaxson Webb moved him over with a ground ball before Broncho starter Luke Anderson got out of the inning with a strikeout, ceasing the Tiger threat.
After Central Oklahoma broke the tie in the third, Fort Hays had another opportunity to get runs on the board in the fourth. Schmidt led off with a double down the right field line. A sacrifice bunt moved the left fielder to third, but two more strikeouts helped Anderson once again escape the jam. UCO added two more runs in the following inning, padding its lead to 4-1.
The next opportunity for the Tigers came in the eighth inning. With one out, pinch-hitter Traelon Yarbrough drew a walk. Yarbrough advanced all the way to third after a failed pick-off, but relief pitcher Jacob Bailey picked up back-to-back punchouts to thwart the rally.
The Fort Hays pitching staff did all it could do to keep the Tigers within reach. Padraic Walsh (1-4) started on the bump and went 4.1 innings, allowing four runs on nine hits while recording five strikeouts. Jacob Ensz tossed 1.2 innings of scoreless relief, giving up just one hit, before Cade Flaherty came in to hurl three no-hit frames. The freshman allowed just one baserunner, walking one while picking up one strikeout.
The Tigers and Bronchos will close out the weekend Sunday (March 8) with the series finale beginning at 1 p.m. at Larks Park.