Tigers struggle to find timely hits, lose twice to MSSU

FSHU Sports
Ryan Prickett, Sports Information Director

JOPLIN, Mo. – Fort Hays State dropped both games of a conference doubleheader to Missouri Southern on Thursday (Mar. 29). The Lions won by scores of 6-1 and 3-1 as the games took place at Joplin High School. FHSU slipped to 9-27 overall, 5-9 in the MIAA, while MSSU ran its win streak to six games and pushed its record to 18-20 overall, 5-7 in the MIAA.

Game 1: Missouri Southern 6, Fort Hays State 1

The Tigers left 10 runners on base in a 6-1 loss to the Lions in the first contest of the day. The only run for the Tigers occurred in the second inning when they benefitted from a pair of Lion errors before Sara Breckbill scored on a wild pitch from third. That tied the game 1-1.

Missouri Southern pitcher Natalie Hamm was effectively wild to earn the win. She allowed six free passes to the Tigers, but was able to strike out 10. The Tigers struggled at the plate, scratching out only two hits. Grace Philop led off the game with a single and Terran Caldwellhad a single to lead off the seventh inning.

Missouri Southern, on the other hand, was able to capitalize on location struggles from FHSU starting pitcher Sierra Rodriguez. A bases loaded walk plated the Lions’ first run of the game in the first. In the third, a free pass eventually led to a two-out, two-run double that gave MSSU a 3-1 lead.

While trailing, the Tigers elected to sacrifice bunt three times with one out and came up empty as the next batter recorded the final out of the inning each time. The Tigers left six base runners in scoring position for the game.

Missouri Southern opened up its lead to 6-1 with three runs in the fourth inning, thanks to five consecutive hits to open the inning.

Rodriguez took the loss in 3.0 innings of work. She allowed a pair of singles to open up the fourth before handing the ball to Megan Jamison in relief. Rodriguez finished with five runs allowed on seven hits and four walks with one strikeout. Jamison went on to allow one run in 2.0 innings of work, giving up five hits with a strikeout. Carrie Clarke also threw an inning, working a scoreless sixth inning with a strikeout.

Game 2: Missouri Southern 3, Fort Hays State 1

Runners left on base turned into an issue once again for the Tigers in the second contest of the day. FHSU took an early 1-0 lead with a two-out bases loaded walk drawn by Sara Breckbill in the first inning, but struggled in every potential run scoring opportunity thereafter. FHSU stranded eight runners on base in the 3-1 loss to MSSU.

After leaving the bases loaded in the first inning, the Tigers saw baserunners reach scoring position in four of the following six innings. In three of those four situations, the Tigers had runners in scoring position with less than two outs, yet could not come up with timely hitting.

Erika Lutgen went 2-for-3 at the plate for the Lions and drove in all three of their runs. In the third inning, she drove in the game-tying run with a single up the middle. Two innings later, she plated two runs with two outs again on a single to center field to give MSSU the lead.

Tiger pitcher Hailey Chapman threw a complete game for FHSU allowing eight hits with a walk, while striking out six. Taurean Guzman picked up a complete-game win for the Lions, allowing six hits and two walks.

Fort Hays State looks to bounce back on Friday at Pittsburg State in a doubleheader beginning at 2 pm.

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