The weather in northwest Missouri has been anything but consistent over the last few weeks. The same cannot be said about the baseball team, which has been hot as of late, winning 15 of their last 18.
The Griffons won all four of their games last week, starting with a 6-5 victory over No. 15 Emporia State University. The Griffons trailed by one heading into the ninth inning. Infielder Landon Mason tied the game with a double down the line, scoring outfielder Michael Babbitt. Emporia then loaded the bases on an intentional walk for first baseman Cosimo Cannella. Cannella then sent a deep fly ball to center to score the winning run.
Head coach Buzz Verduzco was proud of his team’s effort.
“We have this through the course of this season, this never give up attitude,” Verduzco said.
Mason led Western with three hits in five at-bats and outfielder Nick Gawley added a homerun for the Griffons. Pitcher Preston Bailey blanked the Hornets in the eighth and ninth to earn his third win of the year.
“They’re a good team and it doesn’t get any easier,” Verduzco said.
Western then started a three-game series in Tahlequah, OK against Northeastern State University. The Griffons jumped on the RiverHawks early, up 7-0 after four innings. Western scored runs in the first, third and fourth inning helping pitcher Richard Peoples earn his fourth win of the season, going six innings and yielding just three runs on four hits. Pitcher Weston Caindec earned his first save of the year in the 7-4 victory.
“Our pitching staff is finally really starting to come around,” Verduzco said.
The Griffons’ offense had 10 hits in the game and had three players with two-hit games. Cannella added a three-run homerun in the fourth inning, his eighth of the year.
“We hit the ball a little bit, which makes it a lot easier to pitch,” Verduzco said.
Western won game two of the series 13-9. For the ninth time this season the Griffons’ offense scored more than 10 runs.
Western pitcher Conner Schwienebart earned his first victory of the year, though he allowed four runs in five innings of work. Trailing 6-2 in the top of the fifth, the offense decided it was their time to shine. They came alive, scoring eight runs in the inning to take a 10-6 lead.
Outfielder Orencio Fisher had his second straight multi-hit game, going three for five with three RBIs and two homeruns. Mason and third baseman Jeremy Alvarado each added two RBIs in the game. Jared Lloyd started on the mound for Western, but was pulled after allowing four runs in two innings.
The Griffons pounded the RiverHawks in the final game of the series, 21-5. The 21 runs are a season high for the team. The team had 24 hits in the game, four short of the school record 28.
Western actually trailed 4-1 after two innings, before going on a 20-1 run, with eight of those runs coming in the eighth inning. Fisher continued his hot streak with three hits and an RBI. Outfielder Alex Heuring went four for six with five RBIs and two homeruns. Cannella went four-for-four with five RBIs and crossed the plate four times.
Even Jones started on the mound for the Griffons, allowing five runs in five innings of work. Jones improved to 4-0 on the season. Alex Clavet, Blaine Werth and Caindec combined for three shutout innings.
With their four victories last week, the Griffons improved to 19-8 overall and 11-5 in the MIAA. Western is tied for third-place with the University of Central Oklahoma and their five straight wins are the best in the conference.
The Griffons will host Lindenwood University in a three-game series starting Friday at the Spring Sports Complex. Friday evening’s game will start at 6:00 pm and then the two teams will meet at 1:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday.
“If we can continue to play like we have been, then I think we can do pretty well the rest of the season,” Verduzco said.