Western baseball won the first game and lost the second on both days in consecutive doubleheaders over the weekend to split a four-game series against Northwest Missouri in Maryville.
“We seem to have a little trouble in game two of the double header typically,” Coach Buzz Verduzco said. “That’s been our deal for most of the year, which is tough because you leave the park not feeling real good and you have to pick it up next time.”
Brandon Simmons and Nik Jurado earned wins. Simmons pitched a complete game and improved his record to 7-2 on the season while striking out six batters and allowing only one run as the Griffons won 2-0. Jurado gave up five earned runs on nine hits and needed some help from the offense to get the win, but the Griffons won 7-5. Jurado improved his record to 5-0 on the season.
“Two guys that have been lights out for us is Nik Jurado and Brandon Simmons,” Verduzco said. “They really give us a chance to win on the road. If you can split on the road, people say it’s a victory.”
The two games that Western lost were lopsided on the scoreboard. In game two of Friday’s doubleheader, Western was defeated 9-1 after Northwest scored five runs in the second inning and five more in the seventh. In the second game on Saturday, the Griffons were outscored 11-1 and took the run rule in the eighth inning.
“The most difficult thing for us so far is to try and get our offense going,” Verduzco said. “We have been taking a lot of the pitches we should be hitting and swinging at a lot of the ones we shouldn’t be. We just have to be able to turn that around.”
Western’s lone offensive outburst of the weekend came in the first game on Saturday. The Griffons scored seven runs off of 12 hits. Grant Fink was 2-for-2 with two RBI’s and Nate Ramler went 3-for-4 with three RBI’s. Tony Loeffler went 1-for-2 with the hit being a home run.
“We just didn’t play with any energy,” Verduzco said. “You can’t do that against your rival. It was a battle, at the beginning of the series we knew it was going to be a battle.”
Despite the fact that the Griffons were able to split on the road, Verduzco has warned his team about the pitfalls of relying on solid pitching and not being able to produce runs at a high rate.
“I told the team that offensively we are playing with fire right now,” Verduzco said. “After a while you have to start putting up the numbers offensively or we aren’t going to have a chance to win close games as the year goes on and the pitching gets tired.”