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Griffons bounce back from season opener

The Griffons bounced back this past weekend to win three of four at the HSU Spring Invitational in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

Western was matched up against Henderson State in their first game.

After a quite two innings, the Griffons’ offense came alive in the third and fourth innings. Western scored two runs in the third, and then Jeremy Alvarado led off the fourth inning with a long homerun to left field. The offense was just getting warmed up. Next, David Glaude followed that up with a double to center field, driving in two of his Griffon teammates. Cosimo Cannella drove in the next three Western runs, one in each of his next three at-bats. Henderson managed to score two runs in the seventh, but that would end up being as close as they would get. Orencio Fisher put the finishing touches on the game, sending a homerun to centerfield in the ninth.

Cannella believes that their strong offense has been in place since the offseason.

“We’ve just been sticking to our approach that we set up in the fall,” Cannella said.

After four hits in 11 at-bats in the season opener, Cannella followed that up with a 5-for-6 game against Henderson. Cannella led the team with four RBIs. After receiving a loss in the Arkansas Tech series, pitcher Weston Caindec bounced back with a strong performance against Henderson. Caindec went six and two-thirds innings, allowing only four hits and two runs.

The Saturday matchup with Ouachita Baptist was a little closer than their first game of the invitational. In a back and forth game, it would take extra innings to decide the winner. Western had a 7-4 lead entering the ninth inning. Pitcher Richard Peoples would give up that lead after allowing zero runs in his first three innings of work. The Griffons would stop the bleeding though, taking a 7-7 score into the 10th inning. There were really no heroes in this inning. The game-winning run came on a pitch that hit Cannella to walk in the run.

Brandon Downs led the Griffons with two RBIs in the game. Glaude, Alvarado and Landon Mason all had two hits each. Western finished the game with 11 hits total and only four strikeouts. Conner Schwienebart threw five and a third innings, giving up 10 hits and four runs.

Western’s second game Saturday was a rematch of last weekend’s series. Arkansas Tech brought the bats in this game, dominating the Griffons 14-2 in seven innings. Tech’s biggest inning came in the fifth, scoring eight runs and putting a dagger in any hopes of a Western comeback. The Griffons managed only four hits, their only runs coming off the bats of Nick Gawley and Alvarado. Western’s pitching staff was not as bad as the box score may indicate. The staff combined to only yield five earned runs. Alex Clavet gave up one earned run in his three innings of work, walking one and striking out two.

Western finished the weekend strong in their final game, and their second against Ouachita Baptist, winning 5-2. The Griffons would strike first in the third inning. Gawley drove in Cannella and Fisher on a single to left. Ouachita pulled starter Kason Kimbrell after the third and brought in reliever Zach Gloff. Gloff shut down Western over the next three innings, keeping the Tigers in the game. It was in the eighth inning that Kody Matthews put the game away, with a pinch-hit three-run homerun to give the Griffons a five-run lead. Ouachita would get their two runs in the ninth inning, but Preston Bailey ended up holding them to just the two runs.

Gawley led the Griffons with two hits and an RBI.

Evan Jones was the first Griffon started to yield zero runs in this early part of the season. Jones went five and a third, allowing one hit and striking out one. It was a strong weekend for the pitching staff after struggling last weekend.

“We really felt like after that first weekend we really fell below our expecations,” Weston said.

Western will begin MIAA play this Friday when they welcome Washburn to Griffon Baseball Field.

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