By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
KANSAS CITY, Kan. —
Ryan Ventura’s two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning broke a 1-1 tie and kept Pittsburg State’s MIAA Tournament hopes alive Thursday night in a 3-1 victory against Central Oklahoma at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.
Pittsburg State (29-23) advanced to the losers’ bracket final at 2:30 p.m. today against the loser of today’s first game between Missouri Southern and Missouri Western. The winners of today’s games advance to the championship round at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Ventura’s opposite-field home run near the right-field line drove in Austin Lastimado, who walked with one out against Central Oklahoma reliever Ethan Sharp (3-1).
“Actually, it didn’t hit me until I got to the dugout,’’ said Ventura, who was 4-for-5. “I thought, ‘Wow. I can’t believe what just happened.’ ”
PSU starter George Brandecker (6-4) allowed one unearned run on seven hits through eight innings. Ryan McKay struck out three of the four batters he faced in the ninth and picked up his fifth save.
“We just had to stay focused,” said Brandecker, who walked none and struck out five. ‘’The hitters were hitting the ball hard. The coaches said, ‘Stay locked in.’ The hitters came around and did their job.
“I was wanting to go out there (in the ninth inning), but Coach said this guy (KcKay) has gone out there 30 times now. I knew he would get the job done.”
Central Oklahoma took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when second baseman Cameron Mavroulis reached on an error with one out, stole second and scored on left fielder Tyler Crabtree’s single to left. Crabtree, third baseman Matt Johsnon and designated hitter Matt Malloy were 2-for-4.
Pittsburg State tied the score in the top of the fourth inning on Ryan Bordewick’s long solo home run to left field off Central Oklahoma starter Landon Hallam, who allowed five hits, walked one and struck out eight in 61⁄3 innings.
“I was certainly proud of our players,’’ said PSU head coach Matt Murray. ‘’It was such a tight game. Fortunately, our guys kept at it and kept at it and we had a great performance by George Brandecker and Ryan McKay.
“We had a wonderful following by our Pittsburg State fans and alumni. It was a great day for baseball.”