By AUSTIN COLBERT
Fort Hays State University baseball coach Steve Johnson isn't concerned about his team's willingness to try. What does have him worried is the Tigers' ability to execute basic plays on the field.
"We are still not playing good baseball," Johnson said. "(Friday), we didn't compete on the mound. We made some errors early in the game that could have helped us out of that big inning. We didn't make the plays and we didn't respond on the mound behind it. We didn't do that today, but in a sense the second game we did. We are getting way too upset when one or two runs are scored."
FHSU (6-16, 5-14 MIAA) split with visiting Northwest Missouri State (14-9, 10-6 MIAA) on Saturday, a day after losing 18-4 in the first of four games this weekend. They will wrap on the series at 1 p.m. today at Larks Park.
The Tigers gave up 12 runs in a disastrous third inning on Friday in a game they never competed in. On Saturday, FHSU overcame a 3-0 deficit to win the first game 7-6, before losing the second game 7-5 after holding an early 3-0 lead.
Both games were played in seven innings.
FHSU trailed 6-2 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning in Game 1 on Saturday, when seniors Clayton Garland and Horace Johnson hit back-to-back home runs to make it 6-5 NWMSU going to the seventh.
Sophomore Casey Sedbrook tied the game after walking in from third base after a wild Bearcat throw. Two batters later Johnson's single to center field scored senior Jordan Miller to win the game.
"It's great to see the kids fight and to come back and win the first one," Steve Johnson said. "It's great to see us come back and be one swing away from tying (the second game) or winning it, but we shouldn't be in those situations. That's where we have to get better. I'm not questioning their effort, just the way we are going about our business isn't good right now."
FHSU led Game 2 on Saturday 3-0 after three innings and got two of the first three batters out in the top of the fourth, the other a walk. But with two outs, the Bearcats managed to bring in five runs off Tiger starting pitcher Tyler Patty.
Northwest Missouri added two more runs in the fifth inning and took a 7-3 lead into the sixth. An RBI-double by Miller scored sophomore Austin Unrein in the bottom of the sixth to make it 7-4, and the Tigers opened the seventh with a solo shot to center field by Johnson to make it 7-5.
The Tigers had an opportunity to finish the comeback when they loaded the bases with two outs, but Miller's final at-bat resulted in a game-ending fly out to left field.
"I thought Tyler was throwing a great game and competing and then tried to do too much and overthrew some pitches and turned it into a five-run inning," Steve Johnson said about the Tigers fourth inning in Game 2 on Saturday.
"We are left with hoping to get a split out of this thing. I truly believe it's in our power. We can come out and do it. We need to compete right off the bat on the mound and get off to a good start and continue to do what we did today, swing wise. I thought our approach was a lot better today."
FHSU's Nathan Briar got the win on the mound in Game 1, facing just two batters in the final inning. Northwest Missouri's Hondo Pearcy took the win in Game 2, giving up nine hits and four runs in 5.1 innings. Patty took the loss in Game 2 for the Tigers.