The Fort Hays State bats could not muster much against No. 15 Central Oklahoma in Friday's series opener, with the Bronchos besting the Tigers at Larks Park, 3-0. With the loss, the Tigers are now 11-9 (1-3 MIAA) on the season while the Bronchos improve their record to 14-3 (3-1 MIAA).
Griffin Brunson was the main source of offense for the Tigers, serving as the lone Tiger to collect multiple hits on the day. The shortstop went 2-for-3 on the afternoon, his fifth multi-hit game of the year. Grant Schmidt, Corbin Truslow and Jaxson Webb also collected base knocks, with all five Tiger hits coming as singles.
After the Bronchos pushed across single runs in each of the first two innings, the Tigers had a prime opportunity to score in the third. Brunson led off with a single before advancing to third two batters later when Schmidt punched a single to right. But Broncho ace Dylan Hall (4-1) got out of the jam with back-to-back strikeouts, maintaining the shutout. Hall finished the game with nine strikeouts over seven innings of work to earn the win.
UCO pushed its lead to 3-0 with another run in the fourth before the Tigers made a little more noise in the home half of the fifth. Webb and Brunson led off with back-to-back singles, but Hall again got out of the jam, this time with a groundout and an inning-ending double play.
Starting pitcher Zach Berg pitched eight solid innings for Fort Hays State, allowing three runs (two earned) on nine hits while striking out six. Jacob Ensz finished the game for the Tigers, pitching a one-two-three ninth inning with two strikeouts.