Last Friday, the Fort Hays State University baseball team faced Truman State University in a doubleheader at Larks Park for Pack the Park. The night resulted in a split with the Bulldogs as Fort Hays lost the first game 3-4 and won the second game 11-3.
Taking the loss for Fort Hays was senior Shawn Lewick, who gave up the four runs off six hits. He recorded three strikeouts and only one walk. Lewick went through three innings without giving up a run, but allowed a three-run home run in the fourth inning by the Bulldogs.
In the sixth inning, Fort Hays had a three-run homer of its own. Junior Ryan Busboom made contact with the ball and sent it over the fence in left field, scoring senior Sheldon Howell and junior Chris Santoscoy.
“We got big, we tried to hit balls out of the park and we got beat 4-3 because of it,” head coach Steve Johnson said. “So hopefully we learn from that and come out with a good approach and get after it.”
The bats were rolling in the second game for the Tigers as they silenced Truman in the 11-3 victory. Junior Alex Ellison gave up eight hits, but only allowed three runs to score. Only one run was earned. Ellison threw six innings before senior Tyler Treinen took his place. Treinen gave up two hits and struck out two, earning a save.
Busboom went for another three-run home run in the first inning, getting a nice lead over the Bulldogs. His sacrifice fly in the third inning scored senior JC Ochoa and put the Tigers up 5-0.
The Tigers scored three more runs in the seventh inning, thanks to a few hits and a couple of errors made by Truman. In the eighth inning, senior Nash Smith homered to left field, and Busboom had another sacrifice fly to score Howell to get a final score of 11-3.
Due to the ominous weather, Saturday’s games against Truman were postponed until Sunday. The teams got an early start, taking off at 11:00 a.m. The Tigers split again, winning the first game 6-2, but the second game was a painful loss of 4-15.
Starting the first game on Sunday for the Tigers and earning the win was junior Jesse Hart. He struck out five and allowed only two runs off three hits. Junior Kyle Leroy grabbed the save for the day. Leroy kept the Bulldogs from hitting for the rest of the game.
Senior Mace Krol’s grand slam home run in the third inning scored the first four runs of the game for either team. A sacrifice bunt from Santoscoy in the fourth inning and a single from Hoefler in the fifth inning topped it off for the Tigers.
The second game was not as pleasant for Fort Hays as they took a 4-15 loss. Six pitchers for the Tigers took the mound throughout the game, looking for ways to stop Truman, but could not find an answer. Starter senior Andy Lewton was given the loss for the game. He threw four innings and gave up seven runs off eight hits.
Fort Hays went scoreless until the sixth inning. Santoscoy’s single scored the first two runs for the Tigers. Howell singled to score another run in the same inning. With one out, Ochoa grounded out to third, but Santoscoy was still able to score.
“To come out in the second game and just get right back to what we fought all year is very disappointing,” Johnson said. “The biggest thing we’re struggling with now is we’re perfectly willing to follow success with more success. Anytime we fail, we are just not stepping up.”
On Tuesday, the Tigers faced University of Nebraska-Kearney in a nine-inning game, which resulted in a 12-8 victory for the Tigers.
The Tigers and the Lopers had a battle going back and forth as the Tigers took an early lead, but gave it up and came back on a few occasions. Fort Hays led 3-0 going into the third inning, but Nebraska-Kearney tied up the game. The Tigers kept them from taking the lead by scoring another run in the bottom of the third.
After falling behind in the fourth inning, Krol hit a grand slam to right field, putting the Tigers back on top. This was Krol’s second consecutive grand slam.
“That was a big one, and he hit that in the teeth of the wind, too. It was a no-doubter,” Johnson said. “He’s starting to dial in, and it’s a good time for him to do that.”
The Tigers continued to battle until the end to get a final score of 12-8.
Six pitchers took the mound for the Tigers throughout the game. Starting was Treinen, who allowed three runs off three hits.
“Tyler Treinen did an outstanding job. The first two innings kind of set the tempo. He came out and retired the first six straight,” Johnson said.
Senior Brett Macari came in to pitch two innings, striking out two and allowing only one walk.
“He’s calm, and he keeps people calm around him,” Johnson said. “I wish more people would learn from that calmness, and maybe we wouldn’t have these big innings we keep giving up.”
The Tigers are now above .500 overall and in the conference.
“I’m proud of our kids for battling back,” Johnson said. “We still have our inconsistencies that we have to get over, but to be 2-10 and stick together and now find ourselves above .500 going down the stretch run is a good feeling.”
This weekend, Fort Hays will travel to Boliver, Mo., for a four-game series against Southwest Baptist University. Next Tuesday and Wednesday, the team will make a trip to Denver to take on Metro State.