Mar 30, 2024

⚾ Espinoza gem leads Tigers to series win over Griffons

Posted Mar 30, 2024 10:48 PM
FHSU Athletics photo
FHSU Athletics photo

FHSU Athletics


HAYS, Kan. - The Fort Hays State baseball team finished its series against Missouri Western with an 11-4 victory Saturday afternoon (March 30) at Larks Park. The Tigers (20-14, 8-12 MIAA) bats came alive and saw eight extra base hits along with two homers.

The Griffons (15-17, 7-13 MIAA) set the tone in the top of the first by scoring three on four hits. Fort Hays State was quick to answer in the bottom half of the inning with an Elliott Herrmann missile that scored two. The bottom of the second started with Jose Cintron on third after being hit by a pitch and advancing on a couple wild pitches. Luis Ayala was able to score Cintron after a double to right center. Trey DeGarmo notched an RBI after a fielder's choice, scoring Ayala, the third run of the inning.

The starter Rafael Espinoza found his stride after the first inning, pitching back-to-back 1-2-3 innings. Jared Munk from Missouri Western solo homer in the top half of the fourth to make the score 5-4 Tigers. The Munk home run will be the last run scored for the Griffons as Espinoza continued to pitch a gem, giving up just four runs on six hits in a complete game.

The sixth inning saw more Tiger scoring, with DeGarmo leading off the inning with a double. After Cesar Saavedra moved DeGarmo over to third, Brady Kreutzer homered to center field to add two more, making the score 7-4 Tigers. After an Isaiah Ural walk, Herrmann hit a line drive that hit the fence in what seemed like a second, scoring Ural. Espinoza retired the side from the fifth to the seventh, retiring in the sixth while working around a lead off walk in the fifth inning, ultimately retiring nine straight batters until a hit in the top half of the eighth.

Fort Hays State bats weren't done just yet, scoring three more in the bottom half of the eighth. The Tigers led off the inning with back-to-back doubles by Ural and Herrmann. Ayala was able to single with Herrmann on third and Shaun Gomez on first. The right fielder had trouble fielding the ball, as Ayala was able to get to third, clearing the bases for another RBI.

Espinoza (3-1) struck out five with just one walk while needing just over 100 pitches to throw a complete game. This nine inning appearance is the longest of his collegiate career.

The Tigers finished the game with 12 hits, including two each from Kreutzer and Ayala with Herrmann and DeGarmo getting three hits. Herrmann drove in four runs, with Kreutzer and Ayala each driving in two. Cesar Saavedra and Degarmo each notched an RBI, with three Tigers crossing the plate twice.


The Tigers will host Northwest Missouri State at Larks Park in another key MIAA series beginning Friday at 5 p.m. for the annual Park the Park / Curt Pfannenstiel Night.