The Fort Hays State University baseball team is guaranteed to win its first series of the spring and still has the opportunity to open the year with a sweep of New Mexico Highlands University following Sunday’s 9-7 win over the Cowboys.
As was the case in Saturday’s extra-inning victory, the first time FHSU has opened the season with a win since 2012, Sunday’s contest was still up for grabs in the final frames.
The Tigers started the eighth inning knotted in a 7-7 affair. Nick Hammeke opened the inning with a ground out to short, but second baseman Ty Redington followed with a solo homer to left that gave the Tigers a one-run lead.
Junior Jackson Rolfs worked around two base runners in the bottom of the eighth to give the visitors a chance to extend their lead in the ninth. The Tigers did just that, as Alex Weiss plated Casey Sedbrook with a single down the third-base line.
Sedbrook’s run provided freshman Logan Herd an extra run of insurance in his first collegiate appearance. The Fort Worth, Texas native earned his first collegiate save in perfect form with a pair of groundouts and strikeout to end the game and give the Tigers a 2-0 start to the season.
The Tigers trailed 2-1 to open the fifth inning before the top of the order produced a pair of runs.
Caleb Cherryholmes scored Redington on an RBI double before Hays native Austin Unrein put the Tigers ahead with a single to score Cherryholmes from second.
The Cowboys, however, tied the contest in the bottom half and took a three-run lead into the seventh after scoring three runs after Kyle Vogt retired the first two batters of the inning.
Weiss capped a four-run FHSU seventh with a two-run homer to left that put the Tigers back in front before Highlands tied the game in the bottom half.
The top of the order did its job on Sunday. Redington, the leadoff hitter, provided the game-winning run and finished the day 2-6. Cherryholmes went 2-3 out of the two hole, while Unrein went 3-4 while batting third.
Weiss led the Tigers with three RBI, while Ross plated two. Rolfs was the pitcher of record for the Tigers.
FHSU got a slow start to the 2016 campaign on Saturday. Starting pitcher DJ Carr lasted five innings but allowed seven runs, five of which were earned. The Tiger bats lifter Carr, as the game was tied at seven when Sedbrook took the mound in relief.
The Cowboys led 6-0 after two innings before a costly error allowed FHSU to get on the board. Unrein singled to center, but the Cowboy center fielder’s error allowed Redington and Unrein to score. Unrein added a two-RBI single in the fourth that tied the game at six after Trevor Hughes and Cherryholmes plated runs.
FHSU took a 9-7 lead on a pair of unearned runs in the seventh, but the Cowboys answered with a run in the bottom of the seventh and eighth innings to tie the game to start the ninth.
After a scoreless ninth, a pair of errors led to three FHSU runs that allowed the Tigers to jump ahead 12-9.
Unrein finished with three RBI in the season opener, while Cherryholmes added two.
Giles Fox shut down Highlands in the bottom of the tenth to pick up the win. Fox struck out five in 2.2 innings of relief, including all three batters he saw in the 10th.
FHSU will look for a season sweep Monday with first pitch scheduled for noon.