Fort Hays State missed a number of early scoring chances Saturday, but rallied late to defeat UTPB 6-3 in the second game of their season-opening college baseball series at Roden Field.
The Tigers (2-0) stranded 18 runners, leaving the bases loaded four times, but struck for three runs in the seventh and eighth innings to come back from a 3-0 deficit.
“We’ve played really poor defense and we really haven’t hit,” UTPB coach Brian Reinke said. “We had two hits (in Friday’s 6-0 loss) and nine hits today. Eleven hits in 18 innings, I mean, that’s just not going to get it done.”
UTPB starting pitcher Alex Rivera worked out of bases-loaded jams in the second, third and fourth innings in his five frames of shutout ball. Rivera struck out seven while allowing six hits, four walks and two hit batters.
“Although the pitch count got up there, Rivera battled through a lot of situations,” Reinke said. “He has the ability to get that done. He’s really good at that, so I thought he did a really good job there.
“Then we got a defensive play and into the bullpen and it got away from us there at the end.”
Fort Hays State coach Steve Johnson said the Tigers avoided frustration setting in after the early misses.
“I’ve been coaching 20-plus years and I don’t think I’ve seen 15 stranded in six innings,” he said. “I thought our hitters were really pressing to try to be the one to step up and get the big hit, and expanding the zone. We chased a lot of balls up. (Rivera) early on did a great job of battling out of some situations.
“We just stuck with it and finally we’re able to get the big hits at the end.”
Dalton Drury homered and drove in two runs for the Falcons (0-2), while Joseph Kelleher tripled in a run as UTPB took a 3-0 lead in the sixth. Mike Fernandez went 2 for 3 with a double and David Fetkenher was 2 for 4 for UTPB.
The Tigers pulled even in the seventh inning as Ryan Grasser, who went 4 for 5 with two doubles, doubled in a run and scored on an error. Alex Weiss tied it with a sacrifice fly.
In the eighth, Fort Hays’ Marcus Altman, who went 3 for 5, doubled in two runs and scored on a wild pitch.
The Tigers’ Cody Rottinghaus (1-0) worked one inning in relief for the win. Sam Capps pitched the final two innings for his first save.
Max Cook (0-1) took the loss for UTPB, allowing three runs on three hits in an inning of work.
The teams close out the three-game series at noon today at Roden Field. The Falcons continue their eight-game homestand at 1 p.m. Tuesday against University of the Southwest, then host Southern Nazarene for a pair of doubleheaders on Friday and Saturday.
FHSU…………. 000 000 330 — 6 12 0
UTPB………….. 001 002 000 — 3 9 2
Ryan Ruder, Roger Kruse (5), Cody Rottinghaus (7), Sam Capps (8) and Dawson Sramek, Jason Nicholson (7). Alex Rivera, Andrew Donovan (6), Max Cook (7), Nick Bartley (8) and Cole Dickie. W — Rottinghaus (1-0). L — Cook (0-1). Sv. — Capps (1). 2B — FHSU: Nicholson, Jordan Wilkerson, Ryan Grasser 2, Marcus Altman; UTPB: Mike Fernandez. 3B — UTPB: Joseph Kelleher. HR — UTPB: Dalton Drury (1).
Records — Fort Hays State 2-0, UTPB 0-2.