Jesse’s Senior Season

Posted on February 10th, 2014 by by Ron


Seen here on April 4th, 2013, Jesse is key in helping Fort Hays State University pick up their only victory over the University of Nebraska – Kearney in four tries on the season. Jesse is the starting pitcher for this conference game and delivers all but the final out. Jesse finishes the game strong by pitching a praiseworthy no-hitter over the final 5 innings so his teammates can pick up a tough win. These five innings in a row hold up as the most consecutive no-hit innings strung together by any FHSU pitcher in a game this season.

Jesse also gets the highest strikeout total in a single game by any FHSU pitcher this season when he strikes out eight batters in a win that allows FHSU to split with the University of Central Oklahoma.

Yet another notable achievement by Jesse comes this season when he pitches a complete game shutout over conference foe Northwest Missouri State University. FHSU had not seen a complete game shutout performance by a pitcher against a MIAA Conference opponent in over three years, and has not had another since!

Jesse continually builds upon his successes all season. He doesn’t commit an error in any of his 51 innings of work; neither does he give up a triple. These two accomplishments rank at the top among all MIAA Conference pitchers in 2013.

As a sweet bonus in his final appearance, Jesse faces the MIAA Conference Player of the Year and MLB draftee Michael Schulze from Missouri Western State University for exactly one at bat, and masterfully strikes him out. This becomes Michael Schulze’s one and only strikeout in 34 total at bats during seven entire MIAA Playoff games!

Later in June of 2013 Jesse earns a spot on the MIAA Conference Academic Honor Roll, which continues for him numerous such honors throughout his college career.


Baseball Splits with Nebraska-Kearney

Posted on April 5th, 2013 by by Ron


Fort Hays State split a mid-week conference doubleheader with Nebraska-Kearney on Wednesday (Apr. 3) at Larks Park in Hays. The Tigers rallied from a 4-1 deficit to win game one 5-4 on a walk-off RBI single by Clayton Garland, but fell in the nightcap 10-5 after opening the game with a 4-0 lead. Fort Hays State is now 16-14 overall, 12-13 in the MIAA. Nebraska-Kearney went to 16-14 overall, 16-12 in the MIAA.

Game 1: Fort Hays State 5, Nebraska-Kearney 4

Each team scored once in the first inning before the Lopers struck for three runs in the second to take a 4-1 lead in the seven inning contest of the doubleheader.

From that point, FHSU starter Jesse Hart settled in to hold the Lopers scoreless over the final five innings. He went 6.2 innings in his start, allowing six hits and six walks, while striking out four.

While Hart was holding the Lopers scoreless after the second inning, the Tigers chipped away steadily. Sam Thornton had a RBI groundout in the third to make it 4-2. A Jay Sanders sacrifice fly RBI in the fourth made it 4-3. Ryan Busboom generated the tying run in the sixth by leading off the inning with a double, then he stole third and a throwing error allowed him to score.

After a walk by Sam Thornton and Jordan Miller was hit by a pitch, Clayton Garland delivered the game-winning hit with a single through the right side plating Thornton from second. It was the second RBI of the game for Garland after picking one up in the first inning.

Kyle Leroy picked up the win in relief for FHSU as he got the final out in the Loper half of the seventh to keep the game tied before Garland’s game winning hit. Leroy moved to 2-1 on the season with the win.

Game 2: Nebraska-Kearney 10, Fort Hays State 5

Fort Hays State jumped out to a 4-0 lead after one inning, but the offense struggled after the second inning with just three hits in the final seven innings.

Clayton Garland put FHSU on the board with a sacrifice fly RBI, then Ryan Busboom had a RBI single and Shane Wade had a two-RBI double in the first inning. Garland gave FHSU its final run of the game in the sixth with a solo home run.

Following a rough start to the game, UNK starter Alejandro Sosa settled in to retire 10 straight batters from the second through fifth innings. Garland’s homer to lead off the sixth snapped the string, but he buckled down again to retire the next six Tigers, working into the eighth inning. Sosa allowed the first two batters to get aboard for FHSU in the eighth, but Ross Mortensen kept FHSU off the scoreboard the rest of the way in relief to earn the save.

After FHSU built the early lead, the Loper offense came alive with three runs in the third and two in the fourth to take the lead. The Lopers plated two each in the sixth and eighth innings and then one more in the ninth. Michael Edlefson took the loss for FHSU, allowing the first five runs of the game to the Lopers after he retired the first six batters of the game. He lasted just 3.1 innings. Tayler Davis pitched in relief for 3.0 innings, Alex Ellison pitched 1.2 innings, and Kyle Leroy pitched 1.0 innings. Davis and Ellison each allowed two runs and Leroy allowed the final run of the game.

Fort Hays State hosts Lincoln University for a three-game weekend series starting on Saturday (Apr. 6) with a doubleheader starting at 4:30 pm. The 4:30 pm doubleheader marks the annual Pack the Park event at Larks Park. Gates are set to open at 3:30 pm.

Tigers sweep Northwest Missouri

Posted on March 15th, 2013 by by Ron

03/14/2013 Hays Daily News


Fort Hays State University has dealt with constant scheduling changes due to multiple snowstorms the last few weeks.

Even Wednesday’s doubleheader against Northwest Missouri State University was switched from Tuesday. Larks Park still had some sogginess, especially along the fence from center field to right center, an area that was almost unplayable.

Prior to Wednesday, the Tigers had played just four games since Feb. 24.

“We kind of felt like a football team the last three or four weeks,” coach Steve Johnson said. “Just one day a week.”

Against Northwest Missouri, though, the Tigers put together a solid day with 3-0 and 11-3 victories. The wins were FHSU’s first games at Larks Park since Feb. 19.

“It was nice to get back home and, I thought, play a really good day of baseball,” Johnson said.

In Game 1, senior right-hander Jesse Hart worked a complete game shutout, while in the second game, FHSU tallied four runs in the fifth and five in the sixth.

In addition, the infield turned five double plays, including four in Game 2. Plus, Johnson’s two sons came on the public address announcer and sang, “Happy Birthday” for their dad’s birthday.

“We had the week off or whatever with all that snow, but it’s been a little different this year having to travel just to play one day and travel back right away,” senior Ryan Busboom said, “Don’t know when you are playing again, so just got to stay on top of it and always be ready.”

In addition, the Tigers recently added a new sign to the third-base dugout at Larks Park. Assistant coach Andy Lewton, a former Tiger starting pitcher, put up a sign that reads “The Fort Hays State University winning tradition will not be entrusted to the timid or the weak.”

FHSU has battled through multiple obstacles this season, including the weather and early series against conference powers University of Central Missouri and Emporia State University.

“I have been proud of them,” Johnson said. “We have been on the road a ton. Everybody that we have faced so far has been someone predicted to be in the top half of the conference.”

However, the Tigers now have won three in a row and stand at 10-7 overall, 7-6 MIAA entering a road series at Lindenwood (Mo.) University this weekend.

Northwest Missouri dropped to 4-14, 4-11 MIAA.

“I like that,” Busboom said of the sign. “We are way more of a hard-nosed team this year, which is going to bring us a lot more success than last year. Last year, we were more laid back, and this year, we get after it in the weight room more and harder practices and stuff like that. It’s going really good so far.”

Hart, the 6-foot-7 Hays High School product, improved to 3-0 and lowered his earned run-average to 3.46. He allowed seven hits, struck out two and walked none. It marked the first shutout by a Tiger starter since Lewton threw eight shutout innings in a 3-0 win against Arkansas-Fort Smith on Feb. 26, 2011.

The last time it occurred with a FHSU pitcher in a MIAA game was when Chase Schippers threw seven scoreless innings on May 2, 2010, at Truman State (Mo.) University.

“You can just tell in his mound presence, it’s a lot better than what it was even last year down the stretch and a huge lift for us today,” Johnson said. “We are searching to fill that midweek type role, and he has done a nice job of coming out of the pen and as a starter this year, so we are excited to see that.”

Last season, Hart went 4-2 with a 5.63 earned-run average in 12 games. He had 25 walks in 38.1 innings, but allowed opponents to a .295 batting average, one of the lowest marks on the team. This year, Hart had an opponents’ batting average of just .231 entering Wednesday. He has 11 walks in 26 innings this year.

“We’ve had some issues with him getting down in some counts and stuff,” Johnson said. “He threw really well in his last outing, but he wasn’t getting ahead of left-handers. It was like he lost focus and let it tail off the plate, and I thought he did a great job of that tonight. Got down on a few of them and came back.”

Johnson has noticed Hart has always thrown a “heavy ball,” which helps cause the lower opponents’ batting average.

“For some reason, there is just not a lot of good swings against him,” Johnson said.

Hart recorded 14 ground ball outs, including a double play. Junior center fielder Clayton Garland hit a home run to help the offense.

“It’s tough facing a guy like Hart,” Busboom said. “He has a different arm slot than anybody, 6-7, from a three-quarter arm slot and it’s tough to hit off of him. It’s hard to see the ball and he is starting to locate really well, too, right now and that’s what’s helping out a lot, and helping out the team a lot. He is keeping the players all on their toes because he throws it in there every time.”

In the second contest, Busboom homered and the Tigers turned four double plays, all after the third inning. Nathan Zimmerman moved to 3-0 with 3.1 relief innings.

“Infield has been playing great this year and it’s pretty fun seeing some of the plays that Chris and Kelton can make over there,” Busboom said.

Tigers Split with Bronchos on Sunday

Posted on February 25th, 2013 by by Ron


2/24/2013 10:05:00 PM ( (

Fort Hays State split with Central Oklahoma in an MIAA doubleheader in Edmond, Okla. on Sunday (Feb. 23). Fort Hays State took game one 7-5, but fell in game two 8-5. FHSU is now 6-5 overall and 3-4 in the MIAA. The teams play the final game of the three-game series on Monday at 1 pm. Full stats from the games are unavailable at this time.

Game 1: Fort Hays State 7, Central Oklahoma 5

Fort Hays State took advantage of control issues from UCO starter Jamie McClure in the first inning as Nathan Miller drew a bases loaded walk, the third of the inning for the Tigers, and Kelton Rule added a sacrifice fly RBI to give FHSU the early 2-0 lead.

FHSU extended its lead to 4-0 in the second inning as Horace Johnson knocked in a run and the Tigers got the other via a Broncho error.

The Bronchos cut the Tiger lead in half with single runs in the second and third innings, but FHSU pushed its advantage to 5-2 in the fourth on a RBI single by Jay Sanders. But, the Bronchos scored a single run off FHSU starter Jesse Hart for the third straight inning to make it 5-3 after four innings.

In the sixth, the Bronchos scored once more to put the pressure on, but Kyle Leroy entered out of the bullpen to shut the door on the Broncho rally. He stranded a runner at third by getting a strikeout and groundout to end the inning, preserving the win for Hart.

The Tiger offense gave Leroy insurance in the seventh as Chris Santoscoy tripled home Sam Thornton and Clayton Garland, who had back-to-back singles in front of him.

Leroy allowed just one run in the seventh, working around a bit of trouble after allowing a leadoff triple. He got his third strikeout to end the game, giving him his second save of the season. Hart moved to 2-0 on the season with the win, going 5.0 innings with five hits and four walks allowed, while striking out seven eight.

Game 2: Central Oklahoma 8, Fort Hays State 5

Central Oklahoma took a 2-0 advantage after one inning, but the Tigers scored four times in the second to take the lead. Sam Thornton drove home two with a single, Chris Santoscoy added another RBI single, and Ryan Busboom drew a bases loaded walk.

The Bronchos made the FHSU lead short lived as they tacked on two more in the bottom of the second to tie the game. The Bronchos added single runs in the fourth and sixth to move out to a 6-4 lead.

Clayton Garland trimmed the lead to 6-5 in the eighth with a RBI single, but Jake Tuck closed the door on the Tigers in relief for the Bronchos, striking out Kelton Rule to end a potential late rally.

UCO added a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth for insurance and Tuck worked a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up the save for UCO. It preserved the win for Edgar Lopez, who went 7.0 innings with eight strikeouts.

Alex Ellison took the loss in relief for the Tigers, going 5.0 innings. He allowed three runs and struck out two, moving to 1-2 on the season. Starter Robert VanCour lasted just 1.2 innings for the Tigers, allowing four runs. Logan Downing got the final out of the second inning out of the pen and Michael Edlefson relieved Ellison in the eighth and was charged with two runs.

Tiger Baseball Hosts No. 9 Mules

Posted on February 15th, 2013 by by Ron

Tiger Baseball Hosts No. 9 Mules in 3-Game Weekend MIAA Series

2/15/2013 1:24:00 PM (

No. 9 Central Missouri (3-1, 0-0 MIAA) at Fort Hays State (3-1, 0-0 MIAA)
3-Game Series – February 16-17, 2013
Hays, Kan. – Larks Park – 1 pm (DH) Sat./1 pm Sun.
The Fort Hays State baseball team opens MIAA play this weekend at home when it hosts No. 9 ranked Central Missouri at Larks Park in Hays. The Tigers and Mules both enter the weekend at 3-1 overall. The teams play a doubleheader on Saturday at 1 pm, then a single game on Sunday, also at 1 pm.

Fort Hays State enters the game on a three-game win streak. FHSU won the last two games of a weekend series at Metro State last week, then defeated Bethany College handily earlier this week in Hays.

Nathan Miller is currently leading Tiger hitters with a .538 batting average. He has a double, home run, and 5 RBI to his credit in the early season. Horace Johnson leads the Tigers in RBI with seven and is hitting .500 with a home run and three doubles. Clayton Garland was named the MIAA Hitter of the Week earlier this week after his efforts at Metro State. He is also hitting .500 and has scored six runs from the leadoff spot in the lineup.

Tayler Davis and Jesse Hart had success on the mound in the season-opening series against Metro State. Davis did not allow an earned run in his complete game start against the Roadrunners, which earned him MIAA Pitcher of the Week. Hart had a 1.23 ERA in 7.1 innings of relief, picking up a win in the final game of the series.

Posted on February 15th, 2013 by by Ron


New MIAA Slate

Posted on February 14th, 2013 by by Ron


The Hays Daily News


The MIAA expanded to 15 teams this season, which means nearly the entire schedule is against conference teams.

“Three games on the weekend and then two games midweek are definitely going to change how you manage pitchers, how you give people rest, how you watch injuries,” Johnson said.

“It’s just different. Before you gear up for the weekend and the weekend is the big deal, and now, it hits you a couple of times during the week, and we are going to have to be ready for that and adjust to it.”

Last year, the Tigers played 39 of its 53 games in regular-season conference action. This spring, every game the rest of the season is versus the MIAA. Teams will play three games on the weekend and then a midweek doubleheader.

“It affects baseball, I think personally more than anybody, because a basketball team still starts five guys,” Johnson said. “It’s going to change our format, how we handle pitchers, how we approach weekends. In the past, it was weekend after weekend after weekend and now, we are going to learn how to handle it as a team, we are going to have to learn how to coach as coaches in a format where Tuesday is just as important as Saturday/Sunday.”

Tigers Take Final Game of Series at Metro State

Posted on February 10th, 2013 by by Ron


2/9/2013 9:25:00 PM (

The Fort Hays State baseball team took the final game of a three-game series at Metro State by a score of 10-6 on Saturday (Feb. 9). The Tigers took the series by winning the last two games and start the year at 2-1 before jumping into conference play next weekend against Central Missouri in Hays.

Jesse Hart was the winning pitcher in long relief for the Tigers, pitching the final 7.1 innings of the nine-inning contest. He relieved Robert VanCour, who lasted just 1.2 innings and allowed four runs. Hart allowed just three hits, three walks and just one of his two runs allowed were earned. Hart struck out four batters. He worked three 1-2-3 innings, which included the fourth, sixth, and ninth.

Clayton Garland was 4-for-6 at the plate in the leadoff spot, scored three times, and drove home a run. Casey Sedbrook, who pinch ran early in the game for Chris Santoscoy, tied for the team lead in RBI with Kelton Rule as both drove home two. Shane Wade and Jordan Miller also recorded one RBI each.

The Tigers had a total of 17 hits in the game and just two went for extra bases. Garland and Sedbrook each had one double. FHSU trailed after three innings 5-4, but Sam Thornton scored on a balk and Kelton Rule singled home a run in the fourth to give FHSU its first lead at 6-5. The Tigers kept the lead the rest of the way, scoring three in the seventh to go up 9-5. After a Metro State run in the bottom of the seventh, FHSU tacked on one more in the ninth.

Fort Hays State opens MIAA play next weekend (Feb. 16-17) at Larks Park in Hays when it hosts nationally ranked Central Missouri in a three-game series. The teams are scheduled to play a doubleheader Saturday and a single game Sunday.

Tigers 5th in MIAA Preseason Coaches Poll

Posted on February 6th, 2013 by by Ron


Tiger Baseball Selected 5th in MIAA Preseason Coaches Poll

1/23/2013 1:30:00 PM (

Fort Hays State baseball was picked to fifth in the MIAA Baseball Preseason Coaches Poll, released on Wednesday, January 23. The MIAA expands to 15 teams this year in baseball as each member institution has the sport. Fort Hays State finished sixth in the regular season last year and made the MIAA Tournament Championship Game in just Steve Johnson’s second year as head coach.

Entering his third year at the helm, Steve Johnson has compiled an overall record of 57-47, finishing five games over .500 in each of his first two seasons. The Tigers finished 29-24 last year with a 20-19 MIAA mark.

Picked atop the poll once again is three-time defending conference champion Central Missouri, which starts the year ranked fourth in the nation. Missouri Western and Emporia State, which are each in the Top 40 of the ABCA Division II poll, are picked behind UCM in second and third respectively. Conference newcomer Central Oklahoma is picked fourth after going 31-17 in 2012. Missouri Southern and Washburn, which both finished ahead of the Tigers in the MIAA regular season standings last year, are picked behind the Tigers in sixth and seventh respectively.

Headlining the returners to the 2013 squad is senior Ryan Busboom, an All-America First Team selection by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and Daktronics and the Daktronics South Central Region Player of the Year in 2012. Busboom had a monster year offensively, hitting .386 with 17 doubles, 16 home runs, 66 RBI and 50 runs scored, while slugging .718. Busboom, who started every game last year in the outfield, is likely to move back to the infield at third base this year with the depth the Tigers have in the outfield. Catchers Jay Sanders and Shane Wade, and second baseman Chris Santoscoy, who were a regular part of the lineup in 2012, also return to the squad this year as seniors.

FHSU returns two from its 2012 starting rotation on the mound in seniors Alex Ellison and Jesse Hart. Kyle Leroy, Sam Thornton, Nathan Zimmerman, and Tayler Davis also return after seeing significant action on the mound in 2012.

Below is the 2013 MIAA Baseball Preseason Coaches Poll…

2013 MIAA Baseball Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Central Missouri (14) 196
2. Missouri Western (1) 175
3. Emporia State 160
4. Central Oklahoma 152
5. Fort Hays State 136
6. Missouri Southern 135
7. Washburn 118
8. Lindenwood 108
9. Pittsburg State 91
10. Northwest Missouri 75
11. Northeastern State 64
12. Nebraska-Kearney 62
13. Southwest Baptist 43
14. Truman 41
15. Lincoln 19

Steve Johnson To Be Inducted

Posted on February 6th, 2013 by by Ron



Steve Johnson To Be Inducted into Barton Community College Athletic Hall of Fame

1/28/2013 2:42:00 PM (

Fort Hays State head baseball coach Steve Johnson will be inducted into the Barton (Kan.) Community College Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday, February 2 in Great Bend, Kan. He joins Kurt Budke and Larry Schugart as Class of 2013 inductees.

The class of 2013 inductees will be recognized and honored at a 3 pm induction ceremony at the Kirkman Activity Center located on the Barton campus. The induction ceremony is free and open to the public. The inductees will also be honored at halftime of the men’s basketball game versus Seward County (Kan.) Community College later that evening.

Johnson was a baseball player for the Cougars while Schugart is being honored for his contributions to Cougar Athletics. Budke, a former men’s basketball player and women’s basketball coach in the collegiate ranks for a long time, will be honored posthumously.