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ECU baseball team falls in series with Forth Hays State

Feb. 14—The East Central University baseball team welcomed Fort Hays State University for a four-game series on Feb. 9th and 10th as part of their 2024 home opener schedule. Despite the Tigers dropping both ends of the doubleheaders, the matches showcased competitive baseball at Ken Turner Field.

The Tigers fell to 1-8 and were scheduled to face the University of Central Oklahoma on Tuesday in Edmond before heading to Arkansas on Friday to begin a weekend series with Arkansas-Monticello.

Game 1

FHSU 7, ECU 2

Following two scoreless innings from both squads, Fort Hays took a 3-0 lead with three runs in the third inning. They added one more run in the fourth and three in the fifth to widen the gap to seven, however, ECU rallied in the bottom of the seventh. Pryce Jackson scored on a balk to get the Tigers on the board before Britton Sperry's RBI single drove in Collins for ECU's second run, but ultimately, they fell short of a comeback.

Krew Taylor went 2-for-4 at the plate while Nick Blankenship, Jaret Johnson, Pryce Jackson, Tanner Collins, and Britton Sperry each collected a hit.

Chat Hayes got the start on the mound, pitching 4.2 innings and allowing six runs on five hits while striking out seven batters.

Game 2:

FHSU 6, ECU 2

In the second matchup, Fort Hays opened with one run in the top of the first inning, but in the home half, ECU quickly responded with a run on their own after Fort Hays's attempt at double play ended in a bad throw that allowed Nick Blankenship to run home and tie the game 1-1.

The score remained deadlocked for the next two frames until For Hays broke the tie with two more runs in the fourth inning. ECU cut the lead down to 3-2 after Tanner Collins' RBI drove in Austin Wood, but Fort Hays broke away in the sixth inning when they added three runs on three hits to extend their lead. ECU's bullpen stopped Fort Hays from scoring any more runs, but that would be all the Tigers would score, resulting in Fort Hays securing the 6-2 win.

Nick Blankenship had a standout performance, collecting four out of ECU's six total hits in the game.

Cal Birchfield pitched 4.1 innings only allowing three runs on three hits, but suffered the loss.

Game 3

FHSU 4, ECU 3

ECU trailed 1-0 after Fort Hays added a run in the first inning to take the early lead. But after both teams went three and out in the second, the Tigers took their first and only lead in the third inning, driving in two runs on two hits. With the bases loaded and two outs, Christian Whitaker's 2 RBI single to center field sent Krew Taylor and Dione Allen home, giving the Tigers a 2-1 advantage.

However, Fort Hays knotted the score in the next frame and managed to regain the lead in the fifth after a two-run homer doubled their lead to 4-2, but the Tigers were not done fighting. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Whitaker scored on a Fort Hays wild pitch to cut the deficit down to 4-3, and despite ECU holding Fort Hays without a run for the remainder of the game, the Tiger bats fell short in the seventh inning, leaving the final score at 4-3.

Christian Whitaker went 2-for-3 at the plate while Nick Blakenship and Dione Allen each added one hit.

Clayton Solomon had a solid outing, throwing 6.1 innings and allowing four runs on seven hits but took the loss.

Game 4

FHSU 5, ECU 1

In the final game of the series, three scoreless innings went by before Fort Hays struck the board first. Despite a strong start from pitcher Bryan Terry, holding Fort Hays to no hits in the first three innings, ECU had runners stranded in the second and third innings, allowing the score to remain 0-0 heading into the fourth.

Fort Hays added two runs on three hits in the fourth inning and three runs on four hits in the top of the fifth to pull away 5-0. An RBI single by Pryce Jackson in the bottom of the sixth inning had ECU trailing 5-1, but like the first half of the game, the Tigers left runners stranded in the final three frames, resulting in the loss.

Gage Boatman went 3-for-4 at the plate whole Pryce Jackson and Krew Taylor had two hits apiece.

Terry tossed seven innings, allowing five runs on eight hits in his start.