DENVER, Colo. - The Fort Hays State baseball team dropped both ends of its doubleheader with MSU Denver on Saturday, falling 16-8 in game one before an extra-inning walk-off defeat in game two, 5-4.
The Tigers will return to Hays for their first home series of the season next weekend (Feb. 27-28) Fort Hays State begins conference play against Pittsburg State Saturday with a doubleheader beginning at noon before a noon finale on Sunday at Larks Park.
Game 1: MSU Denver 16, Fort Hays State 8
The Tigers got on the board first, manufacturing one run in the second inning. With Kade Wallace standing on third, Ed Scott sent a sacrifice fly out to right, allowing Wallace to walk in for the first run of the game. The Roadrunners were able to take the lead in the third with an RBI-double down the left field line.
Fort Hays saw the offense come to life in the top half of the fifth. With two outs in the inning, Conner Kessler shot a ball to right field. After an error by MSU Denver, Kessler wheeled to third base setting himself up in scoring position. A wild pitch in the next at-bat allowed Kessler to trot home and tie game back up at two. Jacob Bouzide followed Kessler with a squib to second base setting up Garrett Stephens. Stephens blasted a ball over the left field wall, putting the Tigers ahead 4-2. The Tigers added another run to their lead in the sixth inning when Tyler Olson rocketed a ball to right center, allowing Scott to score from first.
MSU Denver took over in the bottom half of the sixth and never looked back. Tied at 5-5, the Roadrunners exploded for seven runs on eight hits in their half of the inning. They would later tack on four more runs in the seventh inning to increase their lead to 16-5.
Fort Hays State cut into the Roadrunner lead in the top of the ninth inning, but the deficit was too much to overcome. With the bases loaded and no one out, Kessler picked up an RBI drawing a walk. Bouzide followed him with a two-RBI single to right field, scoring Jace Armstrong and Olson.
Dylan Hamilton (0-1) was tabbed with the loss after coming in relief in the fifth inning. Cole Zimmerman made his first start this season for the Tigers, tossing three innings and allowing two runs on four hits. Zimmerman also struck out five Roadrunner batters in his three innings of work.
Game 2: MSU Denver 5, Fort Hays State 4 (9 inn.)
The Tigers got to work early in game two, plating two runs in the first inning. With two outs, Corbin Truslow crushed his second home run of the year over the fence in right center with Grant Schmidt on base. After MSU Denver responded with a solo home run in their half of the first, starting pitcher Jake Campbell settled in. Campbell silenced the bats of the Roadrunners in his season debut with one hit over the next four innings. The redshirt freshman allowed just six baserunners and struck out five in his five innings of work.
Fort Hays State added another run to their lead in the top of the sixth inning. With Scott in scoring position, Kessler shot a line drive up the middle and scored Scott from second.
MSU Denver responded once again in their half of the seventh. Caleb Albaugh plated a pair on a single to right center, tying the game at three.
The Tigers regained the lead after a bases-loaded walk in the top of the eighth to Stephens. MSU Denver would not go away, with the Roadrunners knotting the game up at four in the bottom of the eighth. The Roadrunners eventually scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning by an RBI single through the left side.
Jake Steinbring was the first out of the bullpen for the Tigers. Steinbring came in relief in the sixth, allowing two runs on four hits and striking out three. Kessler (0-1) was credited with the loss after coming in relief in the seventh inning. Kessler tossed 2.1 innings, surrendering two runs on four hits and striking out two batters.