Conference championship hopes alive

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The Griffons won three of their four games this past week, clinching a playoff spot and finding themselves just two games out of first place. With seven games left in the regular season, there is plenty of time for the team to win the conference championship—with three of those games against first place Central Missouri.

Western started last week by welcoming the Bearcats of Northwest to the Griffon Baseball Field by winning 12-2. The offense continued to do what it has done all season — that is, score a lot of runs. The Griffons scored eight runs in the first two innings.

Infielder Landon Mason stretched his hitting streak to 20 games in the first inning and scored a run. Center fielder Nick Gawley recorded four hits in four at-bats with seven RBIs and a homerun. Fellow outfielder Kody Matthews also had a good day at the dish with three hits and two RBIs.

Pitcher Tyler Tuepker received his first win of the season, going three innings and allowing just two runs. Pitchers David Anderson, Jared Lloyd and Mike Calimeno then combined for eight shutout innings. Coach Buzz Verduzco loves anytime his team can take care of the Bearcats.

“Anytime you can go up there and take care of them, that’s a good thing,” Verduzco said.

The Griffons hosted Nebraska-Kearney this past weekend at Missouri Western. Western won the first game by a score of 10-3 and took two of three from UNK.

Gawley’s bat did not cool down in this game with three hits and four RBIs. Mason, the MIAA’s leader in batting average, collected three hits in the game. Pitcher Richard Peoples had a solid game on the mound, allowing three runs in seven innings.

Game two of the series would go to the Lopers 2-1. The normally powerful Griffons offense was held to just six hits in the game. Mason’s hitting streak ended at 21 games and the team’s only RBI came from Matthews in the second inning. Pitcher Weston Caindec received the loss, but pitched well, allowing just two runs in seven and a third innings. Caindec allowed six hits and recorded four strikeouts.

“Our pitching staff has been so good lately,” Verduzco said.

The Griffons got back to their winning ways in the rubber match of the series, defeating the Lopers 8-2 on Sunday.

Second baseman David Glaude led the Griffon offense with four hits and three RBIs. Third baseman Jeremy Alvarado had just one hit in the game, but that one hit was his 13th homerun of the season. First baseman Cosimo Cannella added an RBI giving him 61 so far this season, good for second in the conference.

The pitching for Western was strong once again. Alex Clavet went six and a third and allowed just two runs. Preston Bailey pitched two and two-thirds and received his fourth save of the season.

“This pitching staff is more dialed in than they’ve been all year,” Verduzco said.

Western played their final game of the year against the Bearcats of Northwest Tuesday afternoon. It was one that the Griffons will want to forget as the team dropped the game 6-0 and were no-hit by the Bearcats’ starting pitcher. The loss gives Central Missouri a three-game lead over Western.

The first place Mules have lost two in a row, giving Western the opportunity to move up in the MIAA standings. Central Missouri is 15-3 at home this season, but the Griffons are 21-3 on the road. The series will showcase the best offense in the MIAA and the conference’s best pitching staff. The Mule’s staff has allowed just 156 runs this season, while the Western offense has outscored the Central Missouri offense by more than 100 runs.

“These championships are hard to get. It takes so many things for this opportunity to happen,” Verduzco said.