The Fort Hays State baseball team improved its record to 8-3 after sweeping a double header against New Mexico Highlands on Saturday (Feb. 15). The Tigers put up 17 runs over the two games after plating ten runs in Friday's game one of the series. The Tigers and Cowboys will wrap up the series on Sunday (Feb. 16) with first pitch slated for 12 pm at Larks Park.
Game One: Fort Hays State 4, New Mexico Highlands 2
The Tigers and Cowboys remained scoreless until the third inning when Fort Hays struck for all four of its runs. After Griffin Brunson and Drake Angeron started the inning with back-to-back walks, Garrett Stephens delivered a double to left center to score the first run of the game.
A pitch hit Grant Schmidt in the next at bat, loading the bases for Corbin Truslow. The first baseman reached on a fielding error by the Cowboy pitcher, allowing Angeron to score and double the lead.
Down to the final out of the inning, Jaxson Webb came through with a big hit for the Tigers with the bases loaded. The freshman doubled off the center-field wall, driving in two more Tiger runners.
NMHU struck back with a pair of solo home runs from Clayton Hale, but the rest of the Cowboy lineup was unable to solve Tiger starter Padraic Walsh. The junior tossed a seven-inning complete game, surrendering four hits and walking one while striking out five batters. He never faced more than four batters in an inning and faced the minimum three times.
Game Two: Fort Hays State 13, New Mexico Highlands 10
After combining for six runs in game one, game two saw a total of 23 runs cross home plate. The Cowboys came out of the gates hot in game two, taking their first lead of the weekend with five runs in the first inning. Highlands added three in the second inning and one more in the third to total nine runs through three innings.
Fort Hays State started to chip away in its first at bat of the game when Drake Angeron lifted a solo shot to left. The Tigers added two more runs in the second on a two-out, two-RBI double from Garrett Stephens that scored Tyler Olson and Ridge Stephens. Olson added an RBI base knock of his own in the fourth, driving in Jaxson Webb who had previously doubled to right center.
Entering the home half of fourth down 9-4, the Tigers responded in a big way. Eight-straight Tigers reached base during the inning, allowing FHSU to turn a five-run deficit into a two-run lead. Schmidt got things going with an RBI single to right center, scoring Angeron. Then with the bases loaded, Webb worked a five-pitch walk, scoring Garrett Stephens and cutting the deficit to 9-6.
The Tigers went to the bench in the next at bat, sending Jared Maneth to the plate as a pinch hitter. The senior picked a great time for his first home run of the year, sending a no-doubter grand slam over the left-field wall to give the Tigers a 10-9 lead. It was the first grand slam for the Tigers since April 29, 2018 (Jordan Wilkerson vs Missouri Western).
Ridge Stephens kept the line moving with an RBI single through the left side, plating Olson who had just doubled.
The Cowboys added on one more run in the fifth, but the Tigers answered right back with two more in the bottom of the inning. Garrett Stephens scored on a throwing error before defensive substitution Jeb Sauer crushed an RBI double to left center in his first at bat of the contest, scoring Webb. The Cowboys threatened with a pair of baserunners in the sixth, but Jacob Douglas (1) came on to record the final four outs in order, picking up his first save of the year.
Cade Flaherty started on the mound for the Tigers in game two, allowing six runs on four hits over 1.1 innings of work. Jacob Ensz (2-0) came on in relief in the second inning and helped shut down the Cowboy bats, allowing four runs (three earned) on eight hits while striking out eight over 4.1 innings of relief.