JOPLIN, Mo. — Fort Hays State baseball fell short of their comeback bid against No. 19 ranked Missouri Southern on Sunday (March 17), 7-4, after stranding three runners in the bottom of the ninth frame. The Tigers dipped to 2-18 on the season and 2-10 in MIAA play, while the Lions moved to 18-6 overall and 10-2 in conference action.
For the first time in the series, neither team was able to plate a run in the first two innings of the contest as both pitchers combined to allow only three hits and nobody making it past second base.
Also for the first time this weekend, FHSU put up the first run on the scoreboard in the third frame as Dawson Sramek led off with a single up the middle. Landon Erway pushed Sramek to second with a sacrifice bunt attempt. Kyler Cox walked, and Taylan Mullins-Ohm reached first on a fielder's choice, advancing Sramek to third. Cody Starkel then roped his first RBI single down the right field line, scoring Sramek for the 1-0 lead early in the contest.
Tiger starter Ethan Booe gave up a timely 3 RBI double to left center in the next inning, giving the Lions the 3-1 advantage. However, FHSU was able to get a run back in the home half as Sramek line an RBI single to center, scoring Marcus McDaniel. FHSU trailed 3-2 after four frames. Both pitching staffs shut down any offensive production in the fifth frame before MSSU added a run in the sixth on a solo shot to left field, edging the Tigers 4-2 after six innings of play.
FHSU attempted to utilize a MSSU error in the home half of the sixth to their advantage but couldn't capitalize as they stranded two men on base.
The Lions earned two more runs in the seventh off Tiger relievers Cole Zimmerman and Jake Steinbring. Steinbring then settled down in the eight inning picking up a strikeout and two ground outs to go to the ninth frame, trailing MSSU 6-2.
Steinbring was chased in the ninth after allowing the bases to become juiced. Tanner Smith came on the mound next for the Tigers, limiting the damage to just one run after hitting a batter for a bases loaded RBI.
The Tigers gave everything they could in the final stretch of the game as Jared Haynes earned a pinch-hit walk to begin the inning. Sramek then reached on a fielder's choice. Landon Erway then single the very next batter, putting runners on first and second. A wild pitch allowed both Erway and Sramek to advance one base. Marcus Altman pinch hit and earned an RBI groundout to third base, scoring Sramek. Taylan Mullins-Ohm walked, then Cody Starkel provided an RBI single through the left side, plating Erway. The Tigers were able to load the bases but were unsuccessful in taking advantage as they stranded all three on base, ending the contest.
Tiger starter Ethan Booe allowed four runs on five hits in six innings of work, striking out five batters on the afternoon. Zimmerman allowed two runs on two hits in 0.1 innings of relief, before Steinbring allowed one run on three hits in 2.0 innings out of the bullpen. Tanner Smith pitched 0.2 of an inning in the ninth, shutting the Lions down in the process, with one strikeout.
FHSU will be back in action next weekend as they take on Northeastern State on the road in Tahlequah for a true road series (March 22-24). First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 2 p.m. from Thomas C. Rousey field.