The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 8, 2013

Lions win 13th straight

By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer

— It took 11 innings to do it, but Missouri Southern finally found a way to keep its winning streak alive.

Sam Ryan grounded a two-out single through the right side of the infield and Michael McCoy scored from second base with the winning run Sunday as the Lions defeated Washburn 2-1 and swept a three-game series at Joe Becker Stadium.

The victory extended the Lions’ winning streak to 13 games and was their fourth one-run victory during that stretch.

MSSU (24-11, 18-9 MIAA) is scheduled to play a doubleheader at 3 p.m. Tuesday at Emporia State. The Lions are third in the MIAA while Emporia State (20-14, 18-11) is fourth. Washburn slipped to 6-23 and 6-22.

The game was punctuated by a scoreless pitchers dual through seven innings, several fielding gems by the Lions, and a large, enthusiastic home crowd.

“You get in tight ballgames, and in order to win, you have to make plays,” said Lions head coach Bryce Darnell. “We stress making routine plays. We don’t practice our third baseman diving or our first baseman diving like Shaun Hoover did.”

Hoover, who was 2-for-4 with a double, made a game-preserving diving stop on a ball hit by Washburn’s Kyle Carnahan with two outs in the top of the 11th and the potential tying run at first base, then threw an underhand toss to pitcher Bo Bergen for the out.

“We don’t practice the angle Bo had to take,” Darnell said. “We have faith in our guys making plays. We have to.”

The Lions broke a scoreless tie with a run in the eighth inning against Washburn starter Brad Alberts, who allowed four hits, walked none and struck out five in nine innings. Greg Mason (0-2) entered the game at the start of the 10th inning and took the loss.

“I do want to give credit to Washburn,” Darnell said. “They didn’t look like a six-win team. Their pitcher tied us up. He deserved better.”

Left fielder Will Wagner led off the Lions’ eighth with a single to right field that was ruled a trap when Ichabods right fielder John Stoothoff attempted to make a diving catch.

Wagner was sacrificed to second by Dane Kolkmeyer, took third on a ground ball and scored when Hoover grounded a single into center field.

“I just wanted to make good contact and make the defense work,” Hoover said.

His defensive plays around first base were another area of focus. “I just wanted to make sure the ball stayed in the infield,” he said of his play in the 11th inning. “If it had gone through, it would have been first and third. I haven’t been hitting as well, so I want to make sure my defense helps out the team.”

Zack Steadman entered the game as a defensive replacement for Wagner at the start of the ninth inning, and Steadman ended the top of the 10th inning with a diving catch in left field with runners at second and third.

Lions starter Drew Noble took a 1-0 lead and a three-hitter into the ninth inning but lost his shutout bid after a one-out walk to Taylor Herrington and back-to-back singles by Riley Price and Stoothoff tied the game at 1-1.

Bergen replaced Noble, and with runners at first and second, Carnahan lined out to Tee Helsel at third base, whose throw to McCoy beat pinch runner Payton Solcher back to second base for an inning-ending double play.

Noble, who was given a standing ovation when he was replaced, allowed five hits, walked three and struck out three.

“My two-seam fastball and my slider were working today,” Noble said. “That’s probably my best performance of the year. We made a lot of plays defensively and that made it easy.

“We’re hot right now,” he said. “A lot of guys want to keep the momentum going.”

The no-decision was the first in seven starts for Noble, who is 5-1 with a 4.04 ERA.

“Drew Noble made some great pitches and showed his guts and competitive spirit,” Darnell said. “We didn’t play a great game today and that’s a credit to Washburn, but I do know we competed really hard today.”