Baseball continued their strong start in MIAA play and improved their conference record to 5-1 by winning the series at #25 Missouri Southern 2-1.
The games weren’t blowouts like last week, but getting two wins over a top-25 nationally-ranked team is always a plus.
The Griffons lost the first game close, 5-4, but pitcher Jacob Purl still pitched six innings and only allowed one run. The game went into the eighth inning 1-1, and after a three run inning by Missouri Western and only a two run inning by Southern, the Lions got a single in the ninth which scored two and won them the game.
Coach Charles Verduzco knew that this weekend could’ve went differently, but was proud of the mental toughness his players showed.
“After that first loss in the ninth, it’s hard to swallow,” Verduzco said. “I’m happy my players could bring that toughness to block out the loss and just move on to the next game.”
Coming into this series, Southern was 10-3 and moved to 11-5 after this series. And, coach Verduzco knew that these would be close games.
“I knew about their pitching staff, and I knew these would be back and forth pitching duels,” Verduzco said. “Very competitive, very back and forth.”
In game two, the pitchers got to shine once again, with Western winning this one 1-0. Although the Griffons bats weren’t doing well, Casey Danleys’ bat didn’t get the memo as he went 3-4 at the plate.
But, the pitching effort of Anthony Castaneda outshined the good performance by Danley. Pitching the complete nine innings, he only allowed three hits and struck out 12 en route to a complete game shutout.
Coach Verduzco was happy that Castaneda got the ball during game two.
“It was really nice that Castaneda got the start during game two,” Verduzco said. “He’s been a tremendous pitcher for us all year, and I told him that that’s probably the best pitching performance I’ve seen in the last 15 years.”
In the final game of the series, scoring started on a passed ball, giving Missouri Western the lead. It seemed like the world was on the Griffons’ side. They would end up winning this game 5-4.
It was a weird game after this passed ball though. The Griffons scored later on because of an errant throw by the Lions third baseman. A day removed from a complete game one pitcher game, Western threw out seven for this game. They also used two pinch runners and a pinch hitter, pulling out all the stops to get this final win against Southern.