FHSU splits with Kearney
By CONOR NICHOLL
The Fort Hays State University baseball team won 5-4 on a walk-off single from junior center fielder Clayton Garland in Game 1 on Wednesday against University of Nebraska-Kearney at Larks Park. In Game 2, the Tigers scored four runs in the first inning. Junior Michael Edlefson retired the first six batters. Plus, FHSU had its two starters, seniors Alex Ellison and Tayler Davis, available. As well, FHSU senior closer Kyle Leroy could close out the game. Instead, the Tigers lost 10-5 in Game 2 and took a frustrating doubleheader split.
"I just flat thought we relaxed," coach Steve Johnson said. "I thought that game was over. It makes no sense. We played that team two weeks ago. We know they can hit. We know that game is not over, but I bet we threw 14, 15 at-bats away that game, first pitch swinging."
FHSU moved to 16-14 overall, 12-13 MIAA, while UNK dropped to 16-14, 16-12 MIAA. In Game 1, Fort Hays fell behind 4-1 after two innings. Then senior starter Jesse Hart, who struggled with his control early, settled down and worked 6.2 innings.
"He created a lot of opportunities for them, and fortunately, we were able to wiggle out of the first two innings with hardly that much damage," Johnson said.
Leroy (2-1) worked the final out and eventually earned the win. FHSU tied the game in the sixth after senior Ryan Busboom worked a 10-pitch at-bat before he doubled to left-center. Junior Horace Johnson tried to bunt, but missed.
Busboom took off for third base and would have been out, but a poor throw allowed Busboom to be safe at third and then score. In the seventh inning, junior Jayke Brock nearly gave UNK the lead when he missed a probable double by inches down the left field line. The ball kept slicing and landed foul by inches.
In the Tigers' seventh, senior Sam Thornton took a one-out walk and then junior Jordan Miller was hit by a pitch. Garland, the team's leading hitter with a .407 average entering Wednesday, singled through the right side.
In Game 2, UNK scored three runs in the third, two in the fourth, two in the sixth and two in the eighth.
"It doesn't take long," Johnson said. "It takes an inning of losing your focus."
Edlefson finished with five runs allowed in 3.1 innings and dropped to 1-1. Plus, UNK starter Alex Sosa allowed just one run after the first inning and worked seven innings for the victory.
"He calmed down and kept his team in the game, and they came back and responded," Johnson said of Sosa. "But we sure didn't do anything to help the matter."