JOPLIN, Mo. – Fort Hays State baseball fell short with their comeback bid against No. 19 ranked Missouri Southern on Saturday (March 16), 13-7. The Tigers dipped to 2-17 on the season and 2-9 in MIAA play, while the Lions moved to 17-6 overall and 9-2 in conference action.
The afternoon started with the Lions grabbing a 3-0 lead in the first inning after three-consecutive RBI doubles. MSSU tacked on a run in both the second and third frames before things got interesting in the contest.
The Tigers picked up two runs and cut in the deficit in the home half. Landon Erway led off with an infield single. Ryan Grasser placed a ball through the right side, pushing Erway to second. Erway fell victim to a pickoff move by the Lions starter and was clipped at second. Taylan Mullins-Ohm was able to place a ball into right field to give the Tigers runners on first and second once again. Then, Cody Starkel roped a one-out 2 RBI double down the left field line, scoring both Grasser and Mullins-Ohm to put the Tigers on the board.
Missouri Southern increased their lead to four with another run in the fourth on a sacrifice fly. For the next two innings, neither team was able to get any offensive momentum.
In the seventh, Cody Rottinghaus came on in relief of Tiger starter Ryan Ruder. Rottinghaus allowed back-to-back home runs, giving the Lions an 8-2 lead. The edge wouldn’t last long as eight FHSU hitters came up to bat in the home half. Erway led off the inning by wearing a ball on the arm. Mullins-Ohm pushed Erway to second with an infield single to third. Two batters later, Jared Maneth earned a trip to first with a patient plate appearance for a walk. Marcus McDaniel took one for the team in the arm as well and plated a run in the process, keeping the bases juiced for the next man up. Kyler Cox entered the game as a pinch hitter and delivered. He floated a two-out 2 RBI single to left field, plating Mullins-Ohm and Maneth. The Tigers once again cut the deficit to three runs, this time 8-5.
Chase Werth entered the game on the mound for FHSU and shut down the Lions in order in the eight inning. Grasser earned a walk and Mullins-Ohm roped a double to right field, before Starkel reached first on a throwing error by the shortstop allowing Grasser to cross home plate. Two batters later, McDaniel singled through the left side of the infield, scoring Mullins-Ohm from third. FHSU trailed by one, 8-7 heading into the ninth inning with some momentum on their side.
The ninth inning did not go as planned for the Tiger pitching staff as they gave up five runs on four hits, blowing the game open as the Lions took a 13-7 lead into the final score after holding off the Tigers in the home half of the final frame.
Mullins-Ohm reached base three time in a 3-for-5 effort at the plate, scoring three runs on the afternoon. Erway was the other Tiger to earn a multi-hit performance with a 2-for-5 showing. Starkel led the way with three runs batted in.
Ruder (1-3) was charged with the loss after allowing six runs (four earned) on eight hits across six innings of work. Rottinghaus tossed one inning of relief, allowing two runs on three hits. Werth threw 1.1 innings out of the bullpen allowing three runs on one hit, while earning two strikeouts. Cole Zimmerman and Jake Vieira finished the game off with 0.1 innings each, facing only one batter.
The Tigers wrap up the series with the Lions Sunday afternoon (March 17) from Joplin. First pitch is slated for noon.