Tigers hang on for split at Northwestern Oklahoma State

Fort Hays State seemed to be cruising to a doubleheader split on Tuesday at Northwestern Oklahoma State, but the Tigers had to hang on in the end to get out of Alva with a win after dropping game one. The Rangers took game one 2-0 before the Tigers held on for a 6-5 win in the nightcap. The Tigers moved to 24-23 overall on the year, heading into the final weekend of the regular season.

Game 1: Northwestern Oklahoma State 2, Fort Hays State 0

The Tigers were no-hit in game one, even though they put seven runners aboard in the game. The Rangers threw a combined no-hitter with starter Allora Miller going 6.0 innings and reliever Erin Norrie getting the final three outs in the seventh. The Tigers had a golden opportunity in the seventh with runners at first and third with no outs, but Norrie entered to strike out three consecutive Tigers to thwart their golden opportunity. Miller moved to 11-7 on the year with the win and Norrie picked up her third save of the season.

The Tigers had two runners reach by error in the game, Kylie Strand to lead off the game and Erin Elmore in the fourth inning. Amanda Vaupel and Samantha Villarreal were each hit by pitches. Mackenzie Villarreal drew two walks, while Courtney Dobson and Paxton Duran each drew one.

Duran took a hard-luck loss in the circle, allowing just one earned run out of the two scored by the Rangers. An error in the fifth inning led to NWOSU’s second run of the game. She scattered six hits, walked two, and struck out two in the complete game effort.

Game 2: Fort Hays State 6, Northwestern Oklahoma State 5

Fort Hays State quickly put the frustration of not getting a hit in game one behind it by taking an early 2-0 lead in game two. Erin Elmore singled, the first hit of the day for FHSU, then Tori Beltz followed with a two-run home run. That set the tone for the Tigers eventually producing 11 hits in the game.

Courtney Dobson added to the lead in the third with a RBI single, then Rilee Krier pushed the lead to 4-0 with an RBI single in the third. Beltz completed a huge game at the plate by hitting her second two-run homer in the seventh, making it 6-0. The game looked well at hand, but that changed in a flash the next half inning.

Kelsey Kimminau was cruising in the circle, holding the Rangers at bay for 6.1 innings. But the Rangers offense suddenly came alive with one out in the seventh with a double, single, then three-run home run to instantly cut the lead in half. A single immediately followed, but a NWOSU player was called out for interference on the next play, leaving just one out to get with a runner at first.

That out proved to be tough as Kimminau walked the next batter, putting two on, then an infield error extended the game and allowed another run to come in, leaving runners at first and second and the score 6-4. The Rangers followed with a double, bringing the runner in from second and pushing the runner at first to third. NWOSU had the tying and winning runs at third and second, but Kimminau finally ended the chaos by securing a pop up to end the game.

Three of the five runs allowed by Kimminau were earned. She allowed 10 hits, walked two, and struck out six, moving to 12-9 on the year with the win.

An MIAA Tournament bid will be on the line on Friday at Tiger Stadium in Hays as FHSU takes on Nebraska-Kearney at 5 p.m. It will be Senior Day and Pack the Stadium for the final conference doubleheader of the season.

Fort Hays State (12-12 MIAA) enters with a one-game lead in the MIAA standings on Nebraska-Kearney (11-13), so the Tigers need a split or sweep in hopes of locking down a tournament spot. A sweep of the Lopers would for sure lock up a spot in the tournament. FHSU is currently eighth in the standings and eight teams make the conference tournament. Northeastern State at 9-13 in conference play is still mathematically alive for the eighth spot with doubleheaders against Pittsburg State and Missouri Southern this weekend, but one loss would drop them out of the tournament picture.

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