By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
BAXTER SPRINGS, Kan. —
Brett Abell pitched one of his best games of the season on a day designed for a home run derby.
Abell tossed a seven-inning complete game as Missouri Southern defeated Washburn 4-1 in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday at Joe Becker Stadium.
The Lions swept the doubleheader with a 9-2 victory in the second game and remained in third place in the MIAA.
MSSU (23-11, 17-9 MIAA) will wrap up the three-game series against Washburn with a nine-inning game at 1 p.m. today.
Abell (4-2), a senior left-hander, allowed five hits, walked two and struck out nine. He threw 107 pitches and lowered his ERA to 3.95.
“I thought, ‘Keep the ball down and don’t walk people,’ ’’ said Abell, who pitched with the wind blowing out to center field at 22 mph with gusts to 35 mph.
“On a day like this, locating is hard but you settle in as the game goes along. With the wind in your face, it’s going to make your pitches move that much more. Kus (Lions pitching coach Jason Immekus) does a good job with direction between innings.”
The Lions scored all the runs they needed in the first inning on back-to-back sacrifice flies by Sam Ryan and Tee Helsel.
Washburn responded with a run in the third inning on a leadoff double to left-center field by Corey Gragg, who later scored on a sacrifice fly. After that, Abell allowed just two runners to reach second base.
“I had a rib pop out of place against School of the Ozarks,” Abell said. “It was one of those days when you just bear down pitch by pitch so you won’t have to throw as many.”
The Lions added a run in the fifth inning on Michael McCoy’s two-out infield single that drove in Dane Kolkmeyer, then they scored a run in the sixth on a double by Sam Ryan and Tee Helsel’s RBI single through the middle of the infield.
“I didn’t expect it to be a 4-1 game,” said Lions head coach Bryce Darnell. “Our coaches were concerned that big innings either way would decide the game, and it really didn’t.”
In the second game, the Lions led 5-2 when Washburn’s comeback attempt in the fourth inning was cut short. Lions starting pitcher Ryan Bates was replaced by David Reese, who entered with one out and runners at first and third.
Reese (4-3) allowed two baserunners — one on an error — in 4 2/3 innings of relief. He allowed one hit, walked none and struck out six.
“Reese was outstanding, just great,” Darnell said.
The Lions in the second inning took advantage of an error and two walks by scoring five runs. Michael McCoy cleared the bases with a three-run triple to left-center field and Thomas Wilson followed with a double to left.
Washburn (6-22, 6-21) scored in the third inning on a leadoff triple by Parker Gibson and Taylor Herrington’s RBI double. The Icabods added a run in the fourth on a leadoff triple by John Stoothoff, who scored on a ground ball.
After David Gauntt’s double and a single by No. 9 hitter Tyler Bailey, Reese entered the game and ended the threat.
The Lions scored four runs and took a 9-2 lead in the fourth inning, highlighted by Wilson’s three-run home run over the left-field fence.
“I was just trying to drive in a run. I wasn’t trying to hit a home run,” Wilson said of his first home run of the season. “Sometimes you get lucky.”
Wilson, batting behind leadoff hitter Michael McCoy, was 3-for-5 with a run scored and drove in four runs. McCoy was 2-for-5, scored twice and drove in three runs.
The Lions added a run later in the fourth inning on a walk to Dallas Burke, who moved to third on Ryan’s second double of the day and scored on Tee Helsel’s groundout.