Tiger baseball strikes out 17 in Pitt State win
The Fort Hays State baseball team held off Pittsburg State for a 11-10 win on Sunday at Larks Park. The Tiger pitching staff combined to strike out 17 Gorillas, the most for an FHSU staff since 2001.
Tiger starter Jake Campbell (1-0) set the tone early, racking up eight strikeouts over the first three innings after striking out the side in each of the first two frames. The redshirt-freshman went on to strike out 11 batters over 5.1 innings of work, the most strikeouts in a game for a Tiger pitcher since 2008 (Matt Augustine, 11 K vs Missouri Western, 5/10/08).
The Tigers opened the scoring in the bottom of the third when Tyler Olson led off with a single. Conner Kessler followed with a great at-bat, fouling off several pitches before doubling down the right-field line on the 10th pitch of the at bat. Jacob Bouzide then drove in the first run of the game on a grounder to third.
Pittsburg State tied things up with a solo shot in the fourth before FHSU jumped back in front in the home half. Grant Schmidt led off with a bloop double to center that dropped between the left fielder, center fielder and shortstop. He moved to third on a fly ball before scoring on a drive back up the middle from Kade Wallace.
Another Gorilla connected with a solo home run in the top of the fifth, tying the score at 2-2. Fort Hays State then took the lead for good with a four-spot in the bottom of the frame. Kessler led off with another double to right before coming around to score on a Bouzide single. Three batters later, Schmidt worked a two-out walk before Ed Scott crushed a three-run bomb to right center, putting the Tigers in front 6-2.
The first two batters in the sixth inning reached for PSU, prompting the Tigers to go to the bullpen. Dustin Menard got out of the jam with a flyout and a strikeout.
The Tigers added another run in the sixth when Jaxson Webb led off with an infield single. The redshirt-freshman then stole second before coming around to score on Kessler's third base hit of the game.
Pittsburg State began its comeback in the top of the seventh when three runs came around to score on the third Gorilla home run of the afternoon.
But the Tigers answered right back, responding with two runs in the home half of the inning when Webb crushed his second home run of the weekend soaring over the fence in left center, plating Schmidt and giving the Tigers a 9-5 advantage.
The Gorillas closed within one with another three-run home run in the eighth, this time after a two-out rally. Fort Hays State had another quick response, pushing across a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth to push the lead to 11-8. With the bases loaded and two outs, Wallace delivered another big hit for the Tigers, sending a 2-2 pitch right back up the middle to score Drake Angeron and Schmidt.
Pittsburg State manufactured two more runs in the ninth, narrowing the score to 11-10 after two hits, a walk and a hit-by-pitch. But closer Jacob Ensz (1) slammed the door, striking out Gorilla slugger Garrett McGowan for the final out of the game, McGowan's fourth strikeout of the game.
Campbell earned the win after allowing two runs on six hits and two walks over 5.1 innings of work. All five Tiger pitchers struck out at least one Gorilla, including two from Cole Zimmerman, two from Kessler, one from Menard and one from Ensz.
Eight of the nine Tigers in the opening batting lineup collected a hit, including a 3-for-4 day from Kessler. Bouzide, Angeron, Schmidt, Wallace and Webb all collected two hits, with Scott and Wallace both driving in three runs. Schmidt scored a game-high four runs.
Interestingly, current Pittsburg State head coach Bob Fornelli was the head coach of FHSU during that 18-strikeout game in 2001 while current Fort Hays State head coach Jerod Goodale was a player on that 2001 team.
Fort Hays State will be on the road for the next two weeks before returning to Larks Park March 19-20 when they host Rogers State. The Tigers will play at No. 23 Central Oklahoma next weekend (March 6-7) with a doubleheader set for Saturday followed by a single game on Sunday. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m. on both days.