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FHSU baseball splits

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

Senior outfielder/catcher Shane Wade believes the Fort Hays State University baseball team could have a better record this season.

"There is definitely some that we have probably thrown away," Wade said. "We get good starts and then we don't hit at times, so it is kind of just putting it all together at once. I think if we can do that, we can beat anyone."

In Game 1, the Tigers lost another frustrating contest, 8-7, to Truman State (Mo.) University on Saturday at Larks Park. In Game 2, Fort Hays trailed 4-2 entering the bottom of the fifth, but delivered a 15-5 victory called in the bottom of the seventh because of the run rule.

Fort Hays moved to 22-18, 18-17 MIAA with three games left in the regular season. Truman State improved to 10-30, 9-28 MIAA. The Tigers are ninth in the conference; top eight reach the MIAA redundant tournament.

"Talk it about every day -- if you don't want to qualify for that, then you probably shouldn't be playing, so we are definitely battling as much as we can," Wade said.

Today marks the Senior Day for 14 seniors, including the entire starting infield. Game time is noon against the Bulldogs.

"It's been a great time, the opportunity to play for a great program, a good coach, definitely going to miss it," Wade said.

Truman State, a program that hasn't had a winning season since 1982, has played many top teams close, including a 7-5 victory against St. Cloud (Minn.) State, then-ranked No. 4 in the country. The Bulldogs also suffered a one-run loss to St. Cloud and fell twice to then fifth-ranked University of Central Missouri by close margins.

"They always pitch, they always keep themselves in games, they are very well-coached, they execute," Tiger coach Steve Johnson said. "I was talking to their coach the other day, and he was very frustrated, because he thinks it's hands down the best team he has had."

In Game 1, Fort Hays never led, but tied the game on multiple occasions, including 2-2 after the first inning and 4-4 after five innings. While the play didn't allow any runs, the contest was marked by a bizarre play in the top of the third inning that yielded a long argument from Tiger coach Steve Johnson and an upset fan base. Sophomore outfielder Jarod Hahn hit a ground ball.

FHSU senior first baseman Ryan Busboom appeared to step on the first base bag before Hahn reached the base. Hahn reached out and hit Busboom's glove, jarring the ball to the ground. Hahn was called safe.

Johnson and the umpires argued about Rule 2.00 on the voluntary release; "In establishing the validity of the catch, the fielder shall hold the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball and that his release of the ball is voluntary and intentional."

"I understand the rule completely," Johnson said. "I disagree with how it is called there though. I think the play was over and contact was made, causing involuntary release and that's what they ruled."

"They are going to get blown sometimes, but you've just got to deal with it, and battle with adversity, go to the next pitch," Wade added.

Despite five Bulldog errors, Fort Hays couldn't pull ahead. The Tigers left bases loaded in the fourth, two on in the fifth and sixth and one on in the seventh. Senior Tayler Davis (6-3) took the loss after he allowed eight runs, all earned, on 11 hits in 5.2 innings.

"We didn't swing the bats well the whole game," Johnson said. "They gave us every opportunity to win that game, and we couldn't come through with a big hit after multiple errors."

In Game 2, Fort Hays took its first lead of the day with Wade's RBI single in a five-run fifth inning. Senior Jarrett Eiskina (0-7) allowed seven runs (six earned) in 4.2 innings, while senior Alex Ellison (3-6) earned the victory and junior Michael Edlefson picked up the save. Fort Hays ended the game with an eight-run seventh inning that included a leadoff homer from junior designated hitter Horace Johnson.

"I am proud of the kids for sticking with it," Johnson said. "We knew what we were going to see in the second game, the kid throws all breaking balls. You've just got to stay with a guy like that."