Baseball splits four with Truman
Western baseball split a four-game-series at Truman State over the weekend to put them at 29-13 on the season after finishing a 14-game road swing at 10-4. "Our guys did a great job of improving the intensity and improving the production so from that standpoint it's been good," coach Buzz Verduzco said. Things started out great for the Griffons as pitcher Brandon Simmons allowed no runs, eight hits, and struck out eight in nine complete innings on the mound in game one. Western won the game 5-0 which included a homer and two runs batted in from Michael Schulze. Simmons improved his record to 9-2 on the season. The second game was a low-scoring affair where the Griffons got their only score off an unearned run and fell 2-1 as pitcher Matt Bergin took the loss in relief. Truman was able to get a string of three hits off Bergin in the fifth inning and that was all that it needed to seal up the victory. The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak for Western, its longest of the season. "I challenge the team that you can't always count on those pitchers being perfect all the time," Verduzco said. "You can only win when you score. The more we can keep the excitement in the dugout because our offense is staying aggressive, the better chance we have to keep winning." Western bounced back with an offensive explosion in the third game of the series. With the game tied 1-to-1 in the fourth inning, the Griffons were able to score eight runs on six hits. Shawn Egge hit a three-run shot in the inning and Western lead 9-1 after four. Western went on to win 11-1 as pitcher Nik Jurado improved his record to 7-0 on the season by pitching six innings and only giving up three hits and one earned run. "Our starting pitching has been great most of the year, but right now we are in a position where relief pitching is really struggling." Verduzco said. It looked as if the Griffons would escape with a 3-1 series victory after taking a three-run lead into the bottom of the ninth of game four, but it wasn't meant to be. Reliever Jake Jones took the loss after allowing four runs on four hits in the bottom of the last inning. "He couldn't find the strike zone," Verduzco said. "Games like that you really can't let slip away so from the relief standpoint that's something we really have to fix and improve. Whatever we have to do we have to improve that is what we are going to do." Nate Ramler finished out the series by going 3-for-4 with three runs batted in while Tony Loeffler went 2-for-3 with a run scored and Spencer Shockley went 3-for-5 with two runs scored. Western returns to its home field to play Southern Baptist at the Spring Sports Complex on Friday and Saturday.