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Baseball: Offense struggles as Tigers split a pair

With his Farmington baseball team hitting .178 collectively, head coach Mike Winters is pretty pleased to see the Tigers entering the third week of the season with more wins than losses.

Despite producing just eight runs on eight hits in a pair of games last week, the Tigers were able to split their first two Missota Conference contests. They rallied for a 5-4 win over Shakopee last Tuesday despite collecting just three hits, then fell behind early in an 8-3 setback Thursday at Hutchinson.

"We need to play more inspired baseball and put the pressure on them offensively," Winters said. "We are happy with 2-1 knowing we have a lot of improving to do."

The Tigers had just five hits in their season opener back on April 3, but they were able to rally for a 7-1 win over Jordan. No such comeback was in store Thursday as Hutchinson scored two runs in the bottom of the first against starter Tyler Landry. Landry ended up allowing four runs (three earned) on four hits over the first 3 1/3 innings before Dylan Bettermann came on in relief and gave up four more earned runs over the next 2 2/3 innings.

Trailing 5-0, Farmington got on the board with a single run in the top of the fifth. Shawn Blad started the frame by drawing a walk, then moved up on a Justin Lavey walk before scoring on a base hit by Nick Pierce.

After Hutch got that run back in the bottom of the inning, the Tigers did the rest of their damage with a two-run sixth. Landry and Privette started the inning with a pair of hits and Landry eventually crossed the plate on an RBI single by Pat Roiger. Privette came round to score on one of Hutchinson's four errors.

Privette provided two of the Tigers' five hits.

"Our bats need to improve or it will be a long season," Winters said.

The offense produced just three hits in last Tuesday's game against Shakopee, but all three came during a four-run fifth inning as the Tigers rallied for a 5-4 win.

With the Sabers leading 4-1 on the strength of a four-run top half of the fourth, Lavey started the fifth with the team's first base hit. He moved all the way over to third on walks to Matt Roiger and Landry, and Kyle Murphy followed with a double that brought in two runs. After a walk to Blad, two more runs came home on a single by Gavin Johnson. Johnson leads the team with four RBI.

The rally made a winner of Murphy for the second straight game. Just like in the previous week's opening win against Jordan, Murphy came on in relief and provided three shutout innings. He held Shakopee to one hit, the only one he's allowed in 6 1/3 scoreless frames this spring.

Lavey pitched well and earned his second straight no decision after surrendering four runs (two earned) on six hits over the first four innings. He struck out three and walked one while bringing his ERA to 1.83.

"We didn't play very well," Winters said. "Our pitchers kept us in it."

The Tigers hosted Prior Lake Tuesday night and they will be back in action tonight when they travel to New Prague for another conference matchup. The team is home again this weekend when Minneapolis Washburn and Rochester John Marshall come to town for the Farmington Invite.