Parker strikes out 10, but Tigers still fall

By FHSU SPORTS INFORMATION

The Fort Hays State baseball team dropped Sunday’s series finale against Northeastern State by a score of 8-4 (April 10). Three Tiger pitchers combined for 16 strikeouts in the contest, the most in a game since February 2021 (17 vs. Pittsburg State, 2/28/21).

Hunter Parker worked around a hit and a walk to strike out the side in a scoreless first inning before the Tigers jumped on top with two runs in the home half. Tico Olivas and Brady Kreutzer both singled, bringing Trip Pennington to the plate with two outs. The freshman swung at the first pitch and roped a line drive to left that bounced over the fence, plating one run and sending Kreutzer to third. After a pitch hit Ed Scott to load the bases, Jaxson Webb worked a walk to drive in another run.

The RiverHawks manufactured a run in the second, but FHSU grabbed one right back in the bottom of the inning to go up 3-1. Ridge Stephens led off with a single, followed by another base knock from Jenner Kehe. Later, with runners at the corners and one out, Grant Schmidt lifted a fly ball to center that was deep enough to bring in Stephens.

After striking out a pair in the second inning, Parker duplicated that feat in a scoreless third frame. The Tigers then left two on base in the bottom of the third before NSU took a 4-3 lead on a pair of home runs in the fourth inning. Parker added two more strikeouts in a scoreless fifth inning, helping the senior match his career-high with 10 strikeouts in the contest.

Northeastern State pushed across three more runs in the sixth after another home run, giving the visitors a 7-3 edge. The Tigers closed one run closer after the seventh inning stretch when Tico Olivas led off with his first collegiate home run. The right fielder connected with a 2-2 pitch, sending it over the fence in right center at Larks Park.

After Dylan Hamilton completed the sixth inning with one strikeout, Jason Robertson came on to finish things off for the Tigers. The sophomore collected five strikeouts over 3.0 innings of relief, allowing one run on two hits and zero walks.

Parker (0-8) completed five-plus innings, surrendering six runs on eight hits and two walks. Hamilton gave up one run on one hit and three walks over one inning of relief.

Olivas and Pennington both collected two base hits for the Tigers, while Olivas was the lone Tiger to score two runs. Pennington reached base four times, going 2-for-3 with one walk and one hit-by-pitch.

Next up for the Tigers is a midweek trip to Wichita, Kan. to wrap up their series against Newman on Tuesday (April 12) beginning at 3 p.m. The Tigers will then return to Larks Park to host Missouri Western Thursday through Saturday (April 14-16).

Saturday

The Fort Hays State baseball team rallied from a 3-0 deficit to take the lead, but Northeastern State finished on top on Saturday (April 9), 7-4.

Mason Holton and Jonathan Smithey were locked in a pitcher’s duel over the first three innings before the RiverHawks struck first with a solo home run in the fourth. NSU added two more runs in the fifth before the Tigers got things rolling in the home half of the inning.

Dylan Hupfer opened the run with a one-out single to center. Jenner Kehe then grounded one to short for a routine fielder’s choice, but the shortstop’s throw sailed into center field, allowing Hupfer to advance to third. Tico Olivas followed with an RBI single through the left side, helping the Tigers close within 3-1.

Brady Kreutzer kept things rolling with a single to center before Grant Schmidt crushed an opposite-field home run to give the Tigers a 4-3 lead. The senior swung at the first pitch for his ninth home run of the year.

Northeastern State answered right back with three runs on four hits in the sixth before tacking on an insurance run in the seventh. The Tigers left two on in the sixth and one on in the seventh before the NSU bullpen retired the side in order in the eighth and ninth.

Holton tossed 4.2 solid innings in his first start of the year, picking up eight strikeouts on the day. The freshman allowed three runs on seven hits and three walks. Sammy Sanchez (2-4) took the loss after allowing three runs on four hits over 1.1 innings of relief. Jacob Douglas came on to toss the final three innings, giving up one run on two hits while striking out a pair.

Olivas had two of FHSU’s eight hits while scoring one run and driving in another. Schmidt drove in three runs and scored on the home run.

Friday

The Fort Hays State baseball team dropped the weekend opener against Northeastern State 17-5 on Friday (April 8). The RiverHawks took advantage of the stiff north breeze at Larks Park, totaling seven home runs compared to two for the Tigers.

The visitors got off to a quick start, scoring five runs on two home runs in the first. Starter Zach Berg (0-4) settled in for the second inning, retiring the side without allowing a hit before NSU tacked on solo home runs in the third and fourth innings.

Padraic Walsh came on to retire the side in order in the fifth, but the RiverHawk bats came back to life in the final two innings, scoring five in the sixth and five more in the seventh.

The Tigers got on the board in the home half of the second when Conner Kessler crushed a 1-0 pitch over the fence in left field for his third home run of the season.

Mason Holton added a run for the Tigers in the fifth when he sprinted 360 feet on a pair of RiverHawk errors. The freshman slapped a ball towards the first baseman, where it was misplayed by the NSU defender before bouncing down the right-field line. Holton rounded first and slid into second to try to beat the throw that instead went under the shortstop’s glove and into left field. The ball then escaped the grasp of the left fielder and bounced all the way into the corner, allowing Holton to get up and sprint home without a throw.

The Tigers then put together a rally in the seventh to try to close the gap when Kessler led off with an eight-pitch walk. Holton then swung at the first pitch he saw, sending it soaring into the jet stream and over the fence in left center for his fourth home run of the year.

Mikey Felton followed with a single to right two batters later before Jenner Kehe drove him in with a hard-hit double to left center. But the rally would end there after RiverHawk reliever Jon Moll ended the game by forcing a flyout to right.

Berg tossed four innings, giving up seven runs on eight hits while striking out two. Walsh surrendered eight runs on seven hits while striking out one RiverHawk in two innings of relief. Tanner Lukowski tossed the final inning, striking out one while giving up two runs on one hit.

Felton collected two hits on the day, while Kessler and Holton each scored twice.

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