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FHSU baseball takes two of three from Pitt

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

Before this season, Sam Thornton had never started a game in a Fort Hays State University uniform at shortstop. After the projected starter couldn't play because of academic issues, Thornton was pressed into action. Thornton has committed 15 errors, but has played well offensively.

"It hasn't been too bad," he said. "It's been fun to get out there. Defensively, it's been a little frustrating."

Thornton's bat has improved recently, especially in this week's series when he moved into the No. 2 slot because senior second baseman Chris Santoscoy is out with a hamstring injury. On Friday, Thornton went 3 of 5 with two runs scored and three RBIs, including a three-run homer, in a 14-8 home victory against Pittsburg State University at Larks Park.

"With Chris out, he is the guy to step into that role and handle it, and that's the type of hitter that he is," coach Steve Johnson said. "We are banged up right now."

Fort Hays moved to 13-12, 10-11 MIAA, while Pittsburg State dropped to 12-10, 9-9 MIAA. The Tigers are 7-1 at home against unranked opponents and, by taking two of three versus the Gorillas, hold the season tiebreaker. After it used two pitchers for two games Thursday, FHSU had four pitchers Friday.

Sophomore Nathan Zimmerman had trouble with command and faced just four batters before Michael Edlefson (1-0) relieved and worked six innings of four run (three earned) ball for the victory. The offense pounded out 17 hits and had five multi-run innings, including four in the seventh.

Thornton has batted over .300 all year, but didn't have an extra base hit until March 15.

He now carries an 11-game hitting streak, the longest current streak on the team and third-best by a Tiger this year. His seven multi-RBI contests and 26 total RBIs lead FHSU. Thornton now ranks second with a .361 average, and Friday's homer was his first of the spring.

In the series, Thornton went 6 of 11 in the second slot with four runs scored, two extra base hits and six RBIs.

"Sam has been good for us all year," Johnson said. "We have been reluctant to move him out of the 9 hole, because he has been so successful for us down there."