The Griffons headed to Emporia, Kan. last Thursday and Friday to face off against No. 4 Emporia State in two doubleheaders.
The series kicked off MIAA play for Western, but was originally supposed to be held at the Spring Sports Complex. Due to snow, however, the series was transferred to Emporia where Western would be recognized as the home team.
Game one of Thursday’s doubleheader started just how the Griffons would have wanted it to. Western jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the 1st inning after left fielder Orencio Fisher hit a two-run homer and D’Andre Heggie hit a solo shot to left. Third baseman David Glaude scored after a single from second baseman Dylan Koch.
The Hornets rallied in the next three innings to take a 10-4 lead in the 4th inning.
Western could only score two more runs, and fell 10-6 to the Hornets.
Game two of the doubleheader finished in classic style for the Griffons.
Emporia State jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third inning. Western scored a run in the 6th, but the offense really came for them in the 9th inning.
The Griffons entered the inning down by one run. After Glaude reached on a fielder’s choice, center fielder Ryan Degner was able to score a run after an error by the Hornet’s shortstop, tying the game at 3 runs each. In walk-off fashion, third baseman Mitch Thorman singled through the right side, scoring Glaude.
The Griffons would take the second game 4-3, giving the Hornets their first loss of the season.
Head coach Buzz Verduzco was happy with how the game turned out for the team.
“A great win, a walkoff win, which we’ve been on the reverse side over the last couple weeks,” Verduzco said. “It was nice to get one on our end.”
Game one of Friday’s doubleheader was a momentous one for Verduzco.
Thursday’s victory in game two was MIAA win number 299 for Verduzco, so he had the chance to claim his 300th victory in the conference in one of Friday’s games.
The Griffons controlled the offensive side of the ball, taking the lead in the 2nd inning and holding it for the remainder of the game.
A pair of solo home runs from Cannella and Glaude sealed the 5-1 victory for the Griffons.
“There’s a collection of really good plays that we really had to have from a timing standpoint in order for us to play at a high level,” Verduzco said.
With that victory, Verduzco claimed his 300th MIAA victory after 17 seasons as the head coach.
Game two of the doubleheader started neck-and-neck.
The Griffons scored two runs on two errors in the first, but the Hornets were able to respond with two runs of their own.
Western took the lead by tacking on a run in the 4th, 5th and 8th inning.
The Griffons would take the final game of the series 5-3.
“It was a great weekend for us,” Verduzco said. “We didn’t really know what to expect after going on the road to Emporia, regardless of being the home team or not. They’re always very, very good; they were this weekend. We had to do a lot of things well in order to beat them.”
They took the series with the No. 4 Hornets 3-1. Western now sits at 6-5 overall and 3-1 in MIAA play.
They hit the road again this weekend as they head to St. Charles, Mo. for a four-game series with the Lindenwood Lions. First pitch of game one is set for 4 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 27.