Baseball to start conference play

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Missouri Western finished the beginning of its non-conference schedule with a 4-3 record. Now, the Griffons dive into the most important part of their schedule.

The Griffons play Central Missouri — at top-25 team — this weekend (March 2-to-4) and will play four games against Central.

No. 3 Mules (4-0) are coming off their closest win, a 4-3 victory of Henderson State. After starter Aaron Baker struggled to find a rhythm, the Mules won behind handy reserve Travis Unthank. He earned his first win of the season and looks to see the diamond against Western.

The Griffons played at home this past weekend and won 3 out of 4 games against Nebraska-Kearney.

After wining the first game 7-2 and dropping the second 6-2, Western won two on Sunday (3-2, 12-5).

“We kind of relaxed, and offensively we kind of came unglued a little bit more,” coach Buzz Verduzco said.

Verduzco has had a pretty good hand of pitchers to deal with. Junior Brandon Simmons has started two games and has a 1.93 ERA. Mason Queen won his solo start, and may be looked upon to pitch more in the future.

“We’re solid with Brandon Simmons, and we’re solid with Nik Jurado,” Verduzco said. “One kid who has been pitching very well so far in relief has been Jake Jones.”

Verduzco said Matt Bergin probably won’t see too much time right now, because people know about him. Strong reserves will help the Griffons, not only this week, but also in the future.

David Chew is hitting .400, good for first on the team. Hitter Spencer Shockley and Bubba Dotson — two guys Verduzco spoke highly of before the season — have popped out a homer so far in the early season, but it is junior outfielder Nate Ramler that leads the team with two.

After this week, Western returns home to play non-conference foe Mary before going back to a conference opponent — Missouri Southern — also at home.

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