Missouri Western took the series 2-1 against the competitive Pittsburg State Gorillas over the weekend; scoring 24 total runs Saturday but just one run Sunday.
Western coach, Buzz Verduzco, was happy with the hitting Saturday, but disappointed the Griffons couldn’t get anything going against Pittsburg State’s top guy, Matt Stalcup.
“Heading into Sunday we knew we were going to face their best guy and probably one of the best guys in the league, and he was every bit of that,” Verduzco said. “He really did a great job against us; he threw his fast ball hard, his breaking ball was tight and we couldn’t quite get anything mustered.”
Stalcup pitched seven innings, had nine strikeouts and gave up just four hits against the top hitting team in the MIAA for his fourth win of the season.
It was almost as if Western hit themselves out of rhythm after the way they were connecting Saturday. The Griffons knocked in a thundering 10 homeruns on Saturday, six coming in the first game and four in the second.
Western third-baseman, Grant Fink, contributed to those homers, bringing his total on the season to 12; the most by anyone in the MIAA.
“I’m just trying to give my team the best chance to win,” Fink said. “We can’t think ahead, and as hitters we need to take it one pitch at a time and have a plan at the plate. We are a dangerous hitting team that has a lot of weapons and consistency, so just being in the now will keep us where we need to be.”
Pitching continued to be great in the series. Brandon Simmons picked up his seventh win on the season in the first game Saturday. Pitching was also strong in the second game as the freshman pitcher, Kyle Kelly carried four strong, scoreless innings on five strikeouts to help Banks Born get his fourth win on the season.
Verduzco is especially glad to have Kelly available now, after he red-shirted his first year.
“When you’re a red-shirt player, you wait and it seems like that year is forever before you get a chance to play,” Verduzco said. “He’s a very humble kid, he’s a competitor, got a good fastball and he can get in on people, and he learns too. He’s always trying to learn the game and he doesn’t think he knows it all, and he’s always trying to get better every time he goes out. You can see it in his performances.”
Kelly says he loves his role on the team this year coming from the bull pen because he feels it is the ultimate team first type of role, but hopes to one day be a starter.
“Obviously everyone likes to start and I’d be happy if I got the chance in future seasons,” Kelly said. “It would mean I would have learned more about pitching rather than throwing.”