Tigers salvage split with Hornets Monday to stay alive in MIAA Tournament picture

Fort Hays State salvaged a split with Emporia State on Monday at Larks Park in Hays. Emporia State took game one 11-5 before the Tigers held on for a 12-10 win in game two. The win allowed the Tigers to stay alive in the MIAA Tournament picture, which will take complete shape next week in the final conference-game weekend of the season. The win also kept ESU from sweeping the four-game series.
Game 1: Emporia State 11, Fort Hays State 5

Emporia State scored eight runs over the final two innings to pull away in the first game after the teams played to a 3-3 tie through five innings. Fort Hays State held leads twice in the game, 1-0 after one inning and 3-2 after three innings.

Caleb Cherryholmes scored on a wild pitch in the first to give FHSU its first lead. After ESU went up 2-1 in the top of the third, Kevin Czarnecki had an RBI double in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game, followed by a Cooper Langley RBI groundout to give FHSU the lead back.

The Hornets tied the game in the fourth with a Price Jacobs home run, then a Wade Hanna home run in the sixth triggered their five-run inning, capped by a three-run homer by Cody Bobbit.

Andre Vieyra sliced the ESU lead to four with a solo home run in the sixth, but the Hornets tacked on three more in the seventh. Kevin Czarnecki drove home the final FHSU run in the seventh with another double.

Joe Mapes had a good outing in his start, although it resulted in a loss. He threw 5.0 innings, allowing four runs (two earned) on six hits and a walk with four strikeouts. Brad Spires allowed two runs in a third of an inning, Kyle Vogt allowed two runs in two-thirds of an inning, and Ty Thomas allowed three runs in two-thirds of an inning. Clayton Basgall got the final ESU out of the game.

Garrett Bane pitched a complete game for the Hornets, moving to 4-2 with the win. He allowed five runs on six hits and four walks, while striking out two.

Game 2: Fort Hays State 12, Emporia State 10

Justin Hersch nearly pitched a complete game in the final game of the series, helping the Tigers stay alive in the conference tournament postseason picture. Hersch threw 141 pitches in 8.1 innings before turning the ball over to relievers to get the final two outs. Hersch improved to 2-3 on the year with his gritty effort.

Emporia State initially took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, but the Tigers roughed up ESU starter Jagger Harjo in the first inning with four runs. Just like game one, FHSU’s first run came on a wild pitch. Cooper Langley tied the game with an RBI single, then Andre Vieyra hit a two-run home run to put the Tigers in front.

The Tigers tacked on three more runs in the second to lead 7-2. Caleb Cherryholmes had an RBI single before back-to-back RBI doubles by Kevin Czarnecki and Langley. However, Hersch ran into a rough patch in the third as ESU stormed back to tie the game 7-7. The tie was short lived as Alex King led off the bottom of the third with a homer for FHSU, giving the Tigers the lead back at 8-7. The Tigers would lead the rest of the game.

Hersch retired the Hornets in order in the fourth, pitched around a bases loaded jam in the fifth, and proceeded to retire 11 in a row to hold the Hornets scoreless from the fourth through eighth innings. He retired the side in order in the sixth, seventh, and eighth. He recorded a career-high 10 strikeouts in the game, reaching his 10th on the final out of the seventh inning.

Meanwhile, the Tigers added two runs in the fourth on a Langley two-run homer, then added two more in the sixth on a Langley RBI single and Vieyra sacrifice fly. Langley finished with five RBI in the game, while Vieyra finished with three. The Tigers led 12-7 after six innings.

Hersch retired the first batter of the ninth before surrendering a double and RBI single. That ended his day on the mound as he would allow nine runs in the game, but battled all game long to keep the Tigers in front. Tyler Patty recorded the second out before ESU had a RBI single and RBI double to make it 12-10. Austin Unrein took the mound to get the final out of the game with a strikeout, earning his third save of the season.

Jacob Tetuan took the loss in relief for ESU as he gave up the go-ahead run for FHSU in the bottom of the third. Tetuan moved to 2-1 on the year.

The Tigers remain alive for a spot in the MIAA Tournament, which features the top eight teams in the conference standings. Currently in 12th, the Tigers are only three games back of eighth place Lindenwood, which sits at 13-15 in the MIAA. The Tigers need help from several teams, but they face Lincoln, the last-place team in the conference, next weekend. The Tigers will play a mid-week game at Washburn on Wednesday evening before heading over to Jefferson City, Mo., for the four-game series with Lincoln to end the regular season.

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