The Fort Hays State baseball team came up short against No. 15 Central Oklahoma in the series finale Sunday (March 8), falling 7-2. The Tigers (11-11, 1-5 MIAA) collected nine base hits on the day, but were 2-for-13 with runners on base. The Bronchos (16-3, 5-1 MIAA) rattled off 13 hits in the win.

Making his first start of the season, Jacob Douglas worked around a walk and a single in the first inning by striking out the side. The Tigers then took their first lead of the weekend in the home half of the first with a pair of two-out base hits. Corbin Truslow doubled into right to keep the inning alive before coming around to score on a single to left center from Grant Schmidt.

Schmidt drove in both Tiger runs with a leadoff solo home run down the left-field line in the eighth, capping off a 4-for-4 day at the plate for the junior.

Central Oklahoma quickly responded with a three-run home run in the second before Douglas settled down to retire six-straight batters. The Bronchos manufactured another run in the fifth before pushing across three insurance runs over the final two frames.

After going down in order in the second and third, the Tigers had runners on base in each of the next five innings, but could only manage one run on Schmidt's fifth home run of the season.

Douglas (1-2) took the loss after surrendering four runs over five innings, allowing eight hits while striking out six batters. Jacob Ensz came on for the fourth consecutive game, striking out three and giving up just one hit over two scoreless innings of work. Jake Steinbring was next out of the pen, allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits over 1.2 innings of work. Ryan Brown got the final out for the Tigers, throwing one pitch before Garrett Stephens gunned down a would-be base stealer at second.

The Tigers continue a six game home swing next weekend (March 13-15) when they host second-ranked Central Missouri in another MIAA series. First pitch on Friday is set for 4 p.m. from Larks Park.

Tiger bats falter in Saturday's duel

Despite another solid pitching performance from the Tiger pitching staff, the Fort Hays State baseball team could not get over the hump Saturday (March 7) as 15th-ranked Central Oklahoma took game two of the series, 4-1.

The Tiger offense crossed the plate once behind just three hits on the afternoon. Their only run of the game came during their half of the first inning. Griffin Brunson lead the inning off with an infield single to short, beating out the throw to get things started for the Tigers. Two batters later, Grant Schmidt sent another ground ball to short, but a throwing error landed him safely on first. As the ball trickled in to the right field foul territory, Brunson sprinted home, sliding in safely after another Broncho throwing error.

Fort Hays State positioned itself with an opportunity to take the lead in the second. After laying down a bunt, Drake Angeron was able to get to first safely after the catcher sailed the ball past first base. The speedy centerfielder then swiped second to get into scoring position with just one out. Jaxson Webb moved him over with a ground ball before Broncho starter Luke Anderson got out of the inning with a strikeout, ceasing the Tiger threat.

After Central Oklahoma broke the tie in the third, Fort Hays had another opportunity to get runs on the board in the fourth. Schmidt led off with a double down the right field line. A sacrifice bunt moved the left fielder to third, but two more strikeouts helped Anderson once again escape the jam. UCO added two more runs in the following inning, padding its lead to 4-1.

The next opportunity for the Tigers came in the eighth inning. With one out, pinch-hitter Traelon Yarbrough drew a walk. Yarbrough advanced all the way to third after a failed pick-off, but relief pitcher Jacob Bailey picked up back-to-back punchouts to thwart the rally.

The Fort Hays pitching staff did all it could do to keep the Tigers within reach. Padraic Walsh (1-4) started on the bump and went 4.1 innings, allowing four runs on nine hits while recording five strikeouts. Jacob Ensz tossed 1.2 innings of scoreless relief, giving up just one hit, before Cade Flaherty came in to hurl three no-hit frames. The freshman allowed just one baserunner, walking one while picking up one strikeout.