Looks like Dylon Koch’s slump to open the season may be coming to an end. The senior helped Missouri Western to a 10-5 home win against Central Missouri by going 2-for-4 with a team-leading four runs-batted-in.
“He’s that type of character kid,” Griffon coach Buzz Verduzco said. “He’s going to fight through anything. Him really struggling through an injury early in the year, in the first series of the year, he’s not going to say anything – he’s going to try and fight through it.”
The Griffons improve to 14-7 on the year, while the Mules drop to 10-10.
Koch had a 2-for-3 performance in the opener of Sunday’s double-header against Pittsburg State. He drove in six runs in that game and hit a pair of home runs.
“I feel way better in the box,” Koch said. “I faced a little bit of adversity in the beginning of the year. As an athlete you go through times like that. Had it been the middle of the year it would have just been a slump, but the beginning of the year its tough to fight back.”
The second baseman wasn’t able to go deep with either of his hits on Tuesday, but did have a pair of two-run singles.
“[Koch] was able to get a cortisone shot the other day that was able to make him a completely different guy with the pain gone,” Verduzco said. “Now he’s back to his old self and for him to come out and show that leadership that we often need in these type of games against quality teams is big for us.”
The fifth-year senior’s batting average improved to .135 and is heating up at the right time with the Griffons being short on position players for the couple series.
“Being a fifth year guy, me and Buzz [Verduzco] have been together a long time. He has a lot of trust in me and I know that, so I have a lot of trust in myself.”
Outfielders Orencio Fisher and Ryan Degner are both sidelined with injuries.
“We have a couple good players out right now. We have to have other players step up. They were prepared for their time to step in… We have a lot of depth on this team,” Koch said.
His base-knock in the third inning broke a four-all tie. The hit plated Andrew Ramirez and Cosimo Cannella.
Cannella also had a good day at the plate for the Griffons with a 2-for-4 game and a double to go with 2 RBIs.
“With our offense as you can see we are explosive,” Koch said.
Freshman Jared Lloyd had a rough first start for the home team failing to make it out of the second inning. Only recording four outs, the right-hander from Staley High School gave up three runs on three hits and walked two batters.
“Lloyd struggled a little bit, but he’s young,” Verduzco said. “He’s going to be in there a lot of time in the next four years. He’ll learn from this experience and he’ll get better the next time he goes out.”
The Western bullpen came in and stopped the bleeding with Matt Russell coming in for Lloyd and getting Western into the fifth inning. The senior gave up two runs but exited with the lead and earned the win.
Right-hander Weston Caindec was the pitcher of the night for the Griffons, though. The junior didn’t allow a hit in four scoreless innings. His earned run average dropped to 4.00 in 2015.
“[Caindec] pitched four solid innings to be able to put up those zeros when we really, really needed it,” Verduzco said.
Tuesday’s game was the only matchup between the Mules and the Griffons and won’t be tallied as a conference game due to the unbalanced league schedule.
“Its fun playing UCM every year,” Koch said. “We got to play them once this year and we took advantage of it.”
The Griffons will be back in action Friday for a four game weekend series against Washburn in Topeka, Kansas.