Fort Hays State fell twice on Thursday to MIAA-leading Washburn in extra innings. The Tigers rallied for two runs in the seventh inning of Game 1 to force extras, but eventually fell in 10 innings 4-3. They rallied back from a 6-0 deficit in Game 2 with five runs in the fifth and one in the sixth, but fell in eight innings 7-6. FHSU moved to 11-31 overall, 7-13 in the MIAA, while Washburn moved to 31-8 overall, 15-1 in the MIAA. It was the second straight day both games of a doubleheader were decided by one run, but this time the Tigers were on the short end in each game.
Game 1: Washburn 4, Fort Hays State 3 (10 inn.)
Washburn jumped out to a 3-0 lead through three innings in the first game of the doubleheader. A throwing error to open the game led to a two-run first inning for Washburn. A triple in the third led to another run in the third.
The Tigers went hitless through the first 3.2 innings against Washburn starting pitcher Megan Deiter, who entered the contest with a record of 13-0 and a sub-2.00 ERA. Grace Philop picked up the first hit for the Tigers in the fourth on a lined shot to the right center gap for a double. An inning later, Sara Breckbill put the first run on the board for FHSU with a solo home run to left center field.
Down 3-1 going into the bottom of the seventh, the Tigers finally broke through against Deiter. Bailey Boxberger led off the inning with a single then Veronica Knittig put down a sacrifice bunt. After Breckbill flied out to left field, Tess Gray drew an important walk to put runners at second and first.
Bailey Kennedy, who joined the team in the middle of the game due to an academic obligation, came off the bench and got her timing down after a couple of strikes. She fouled off three pitches before finally lining a single to left center. Jeni Mohr came around to score from second after pinch running for Boxberger to make it 3-2. Washburn coach Brenda Holaday opted to turn the ball over to Lexi Crabtree in relief of Deiter. It did not pay off as Lily Sale dumped a single over the head of the second baseman and tied the game 3-3.
Neither team scored in the first two extra innings, but Washburn benefitted from a dropped throw at first base in the 10th. As the ball dribbled away, a runner came in to score from third base. It was the second unearned run of the game for Washburn. It proved to be the game-winner as the Tigers could not get a runner across in the bottom half of the inning. Kennedy wound up going 2-for-2 in the game, getting another base hit in the 10th. She reached second base, but the game ended on a ground out.
Hailey Chapman danced out of danger in the pitching circle throughout the game, stranding 14 Washburn runners in the game. That helped limit the damage by an Ichabod squad that finished the game with 18 hits. She threw all 10 innings for FHSU, striking out five.
Crabtree picked up the win in 3.1 innings of relief for Washburn. She allowed just two hits and struck out one. Deiter, getting no decision, remained undefeated on the year. She threw 6.2 innings and struck out 10, while allowing five hits.
Game 2: Washburn 7, Fort Hays State 6 (8 inn.)
Washburn looked to be running away with game two of the doubleheader, but like in Game 1, the Tigers started a comeback in the fifth inning once again. This time the rally was twice as big in terms of runs. Washburn led 6-0 through 4.5 innings, but the Tigers rallied for five in the fifth and one in the sixth to force extra innings for the second straight game.
Washburn jumped out of the gates fast with three runs in the first inning on five hits. A solo home run in the fourth made it 4-0, then a sacrifice fly and an RBI-double added two more runs in the fifth.
Washburn pitcher Kelsee Henry was cruising along through four innings, but ran into a parade of four straight hits by the Tigers in the fifth to chase her from the game. Tess Gray put the Tigers on the board with an RBI double to left field. Lily Sale singled to put runners at first and third and then she stole second. Candace Bollig drove in two runs with a single up the middle, cutting the Washburn lead in half to 6-3. Terran Caldwell followed with a double to the left center gap to plate another run and make Washburn go to Lexi Crabtree in the pitching circle once again. With two outs, Bailey Boxberger kept the Tiger rally going with an RBI single up the middle.
The Tigers continued to apply the pressure in the sixth as Veronica Knittig led off with a single. Tess Gray picked up her second straight double and drove in Knittig all the way from first. Knittig was ruled safe at the plate on an overturned call by the umpire. Though she was tagged out initially, obstruction of the plate was called on the catcher, not allowing Knittig a legal path to home plate. The Tigers nearly had the go-ahead run score on a pinch hit single up the middle by Sarah Kay, but pinch runner Sydney Harsh was thrown out at the plate by the center fielder. Again, the catcher blocked off the plate as Harsh slid into her leg in front of the plate, but this time the umpires did not rule obstruction.
Neither team scored in the seventh, forcing extras once again, but Washburn prevailed once again thanks to a solo home run in the eighth by Taylor Kirk. It was her second solo homer of the game after doing the same back in the fourth inning. The Tigers got a pair of one-out singles in the bottom of the eighth, but Crabtree got a pair of strikeouts to end the game.
Sierra Rodriguez pitched all eight innings for FHSU, allowing 13 hits. She struck out one. Crabtree earned her second straight win in relief for the day, moving to 5-5 on the season. She allowed one run on six hits, with three strikeouts over 3.2 innings of work. Henry pitched the first 4.1 innings, allowing five runs on six hits.
The Tigers go on the road for very important MIAA games at Missouri Western and Northwest Missouri State next weekend. They need to make a charge in the MIAA standings as the top eight qualify for the MIAA Tournament.