By Richard Polen
The Joplin Globe
The Missouri Southern are headed back to town on a bit of a hot streak.
The Lions won twice more on Sunday — 11-6 and 7-3 — to complete a season-opening four-game sweep of Montana State University Billings at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.
Southern opens its MIAA schedule on Saturday with a trip to St. Charles, Mo., for a three-game series with Lindenwood. The two squads of Lions meet for a doubleheader on Saturday before the series finale on Sunday.
Against MSU Billings on Sunday the Lions got another dose of solid hitting and strong pitching in the sweep.
Four pitchers — Payton Walker and Kanon Hoover in the opener and Ryan Bates and Bo Bergen in the nightcap —combined to allow just five earned runs in the 14 innings combined.
Hoover got the win in the opener despite allowing three earned runs in 3 1/3 innings relief of Walker. Bates went five innings in the nightcap, allowing three runs (one earned) while striking out five and walking two.
Bergen went the final two innings and struck out four while earning the save.
The Lions scored seven runs in the fifth inning of the opener. The outburst was capped by Michael McCoy’s single to center that ended up scoring three thanks to an MSU Billings error.
Sam Ryan was 3-for-4 with a double in the opener while Nick Doughty, Tee Helsel and Shaun Hoover each had a pair of hits.
The Lions scored three times in the fourth inning of the nightcap to break open a 2-2 tie and then added two insurance runs in the sixth.
Ryan was 2-for-4 in the nightcap to finish the day 5-for-8. McCoy was 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBI.
As a team, the Lions struck out just eight times on the day, four times in each game.