Lions even weekend baseball series with Bronchos

Apr. 6—After losing the first game in a three-game series against the Central Oklahoma Bronchos on Friday, Southern bounced back on windy Saturday at Warren Turner Field.

The Lions won game two 11-1 in seven innings, improving to 29-9 (16-6 MIAA) with the win.

Southern scored its first two runs in the first inning, and Central Oklahoma scored a run in the second, but that was it for the Bronchos.

Southern's lead climbed to 4-1 in the third, and the Lions scored another in the sixth. In the seventh, Drew Townsend hit a double to right, and made it to third on a wild pitch. Will Doherty walked and Wyatt Morgan was hit by a pitch, loading bases. Garrett Rice hit a double, bringing in two more, followed by two more runs after a wild pitch and a throwing error. That made it 9-1 Southern.

With Treghan Parker on base, Drew Davis hit a home run, ending the game via the run rule, 11-1.

Trent Harris went six innings for the win. Rice went 3-4 with a double, driving in five runs and scoring another himself. Drew Davis was 2-4 with a home run and a double, 2 RBIs and 2 runs scored.

Game three starts at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Friday game

UCO (29-8, 15-7 MIAA) took Game 1 of the three-game series by a score of 7-5 after taking advantage of some early free passes and hit batters by MSSU's starting pitcher, Cole Gayman.

The Bronchos added two runs on wild pitches from reliever Brandon Overman in the seventh inning to make it 7-3 at the time.

"We did not play well enough in all phases to win," MSSU head coach Bryce Darnell said. "We gave them a lot and still had a couple chances. ... We had our chances even though we did not play well. So, there's a positive there."

The top-20 matchup drew in a prep team from Oklahoma in Haskell High School — 35 miles southeast of Tulsa. The Haskell Haymakers are currently in the Miami/Commerce area this weekend playing in the Mickey Mantle Classic.

Friday's game was a key series for the MIAA standings and even national implications.

"Both teams were into it from the beginning and both teams know what it means and that was a really good baseball game," UCO head coach John Martin said.

Those chances Darnell mentioned did come for MSSU.

The Lions had a runner on base with two outs when Martin went out to pull starting pitcher Brady Gilmore. Racer Felter replaced Gilmore.

Felter's first pitch was sent well beyond the 330-foot mark on the left field fence by Henry Kusiak, but it also went well to the left of the left-field foul pole into foul territory. That pitch was on the inside part of the plate and Kusiak jumped all over it but got too far out in front.

"Henry thought maybe he should have kept it fair, he told me. He didn't think it was too far inside to keep it fair," Darnell said.

Kusiak then fell behind 0-2, battled back to work the count in his favor, and then singled on a ground ball through the infield.

Felter got Will Doherty to strand both runners on a ground ball to third base that turned into a fielder's choice as UCO's Garrett Long tagged the runner out headed to third.

"He (Felter) did a good job and obviously Kusiak's a really good player," Martin said. "He's a veteran and knows how to hit."

The next chance for the home team came in the bottom of the seventh. Garrett Rice led off the inning with a short, soft pop up to the pitcher that went just beyond the mound.

UCO's Austin Burda backpedalled off the mound and got under the ball but it kicked off the heel of his glove and fell to the grass, allowing Rice to reach safely. Burda then walked Beck and Rice was stealing on that pitch.

The Bronchos' catcher Matt Baughn fired the ball down to second base despite it being a walk and Rice being rewarded second base automatically. The throw got away and ended up in center field which let Rice move up to third base.

Drew Townsend hit a deep fly into right-center field that drove in Rice to make it 7-4. Wyatt Morgan was hit by a pitch, Kusiak was walked and that loaded the bases for Doherty. Doherty grounded out to second base scoring Beck to make it 7-5.

But then Treghan Parker skied one on the infield that retired the side and stranded runners on second and third.

In the bottom of the eighth, score still 7-5, Morgan came up with the sacks full for Southern and failed to do any damage as he rolled over to the second baseman to end the inning.

Felter earned the win for the Bronchos making him 3-0 on the year. Valek Cisneros got his 12th save of the season with a clean ninth frame striking out two batters and allowing no baserunners.

"They're good, man. We're good. We just have to play better and they outplayed us tonight," Darnell said.

Gayman (7-1) was handed his first loss on the season. He walked four batters and hit three while striking out six. This makes two consecutive starts of giving up four runs after not allowing more than one in seven of his first eight starts. His season earned run average has jumped from 1.27 to 2.26 after the last two outings.

Overman pitched three innings and Michael Moore got the last two. Moore didn't allow any runs, just one hit and struck out three batters.

Orlando Gonzalez was key for UCO in this one on offense. The junior shortstop was on base five times with a double, single, bunt single, and was hit by a pitch twice. Long and Baughn led the team with two RBIs each. Kaleb Glass and Gonzalez each scored twice.

Kusiak and Rice each had two hits to lead the Lions. Townsend and Kusiak both drove in two runs and Rice scored twice. The team only had six hits to UCO's 12.

Both teams stranded a lot of baserunners with Central Oklahoma leaving 12 on base and Missouri Southern nine.

The series continues with a Saturday game that has first pitch slated for 1 p.m.

"It's a good college baseball game to watch. That's for sure," Darnell said. "Hopefully we can get out to a little better start tomorrow."

"For both teams, they're big. You want to get as high as you can in the conference and we're both trying to get as far as we can in the postseason," Martin said. "The next two days won't be easy and we know they're good at their home."