WALK PARTY: Lions draw nine walks in senior day victory

Apr. 20—Missouri Southern's hitters remained disciplined and patient all game long on Saturday, drawing nine walks and being hit by pitches three times.

Those twelve free passes resulted in a lot of offense as MSSU took care of business on Warren Turner Field, grabbing the series win and a 14-6 victory in the game.

Missouri Western is back for the series finale on Sunday and will have to try and avoid being swept by the Lions during a 1 p.m. start.

"We don't mention that word," MSSU head coach Bryce Darnell said of trying to sweep the series. "We just try to play as good as we can play and tomorrow's a new day for us and also for Western."

MSSU grabbed the win in Game 1 by a score of 5-0. Cole Gayman starred in that one as the junior ace pitched a complete-game shutout on just 98 pitches.


The bottom of the second inning blew the game open as MSSU drew five walks in the frame, Nate Mieszkowski was hit by a pitch and Ethan Clark reached via an error. The Lions only had two hits and managed nine runs to take a 12-1 lead heading into the third inning.

"Obviously, the nine-run inning ... changed the game," Lions' head coach Bryce Darnell said.

That was enough for MSSU starter Trent Harris to settle in and go six innings for the win while working around eight hits and six walks to only allow three runs. Harris struck out four batters.

"We weren't particularly sharp early, either. But then Trent (Harris) settled down," Darnell added. "That's just it. He settled in after the third inning. It was good to see him go deep in the game and save some bullpen."

The game's scoring began with the Griffons bringing home a run through a little manufacturing.

Harris walked the first two batters and then two productive outs brought one run in.

A fly ball into the deeper part of centerfield moved both runners up 90 feet. Then a soft ground out from Jackson Bryant to Nate Mieszkowski at second base didn't leave him with a play to any base but first, scoring Blake Anderson.

Harris closed the first inning with a strikeout.

The Lions tallied three in the home half of the first. Drew Townsend led things off with a single, Ethan Clark was walked and Henry Kusiak grounded a ball to first base. An errant throw from first baseman Travis Wiese pulled Kaden Doan off the bag at second and then all runners were safe and the bases were loaded.

After Will Doherty popped up in foul territory, Garrett Rice was hit by a pitch, Mieszkowski was walked and Tyler Ferguson hit a sacrifice fly to score three straight runs.

Drew Davis drew a walk to load the bases back up and that forced MWSU's head coach Damian Stambersky to make a first-inning pitching change. Gunnar Nartker replaced starter Lynden Bruegman and was able to get Chayton Beck to strike out swinging and end the frame.

The Griffons loaded the bases on Harris with one out in the top of the second but he was able to work through it after a line out to first base and a routine fly to the outfield.

"I was struggling to find the zone and I finally figured out I could trust my defense and that helped a lot," Harris said. "Not necessarily letting them hit it, but making good, competitive pitches and let my defense play."

Harris noted that he really tries to let the defense work later in the game as he gets more fatigued and can't get pitches past for strikeouts as often.

Western added a run in the third, another in the fifth and three in the seventh to avoid being run-ruled by Southern.

MSSU tallied a run in the fifth and seventh to add to its 12 runs after two innings. It picked up nine hits in the game and got two each from Townsend, Case Tucker, Doherty and Rice.

The Lions faced six different Griffon pitchers and saw four of them within the first two innings.


Each of the nine seniors were recognized prior to the first pitch as each player walked out onto the field to receive their own personal plaque and most had family walking out with them.

"We were able to get all of the seniors in and they all had good days," Darnell said. "

Rice is one of the seniors and he finished the day going 2 for 3 with a hit by pitch, a walk and drove in two runs while scoring once himself. He talked about his performance and what it meant to be a part of this program for two seasons.

"Man, it's been life-changing," Rice said. "I've loved every second of it. Loved the coaches. Loved the guys. It's something I'm very grateful to be a part of. It's good to be a part of something bigger than yourself.

"Just trying to get a good pitch to hit and get on base for the guys. We've been swinging it well so whatever I can do to get on base and help the team out."

Rice spent his first two seasons with the Missouri Tigers.

Senior left-handed relief pitcher Jacob Davis closed the game by coming in to record the final out with a strikeout.

Darnell commented on his seniors after the game.

"They've been awesome to coach," Darnell said. "It's not easy not to play. They've never complained. They've had good energy and it means a lot as a coach."