By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
Missouri Southern’s five-game road trip against two of the top teams in the MIAA resumes with a doubleheader at 1 p.m. today against Central Missouri at Crane Stadium in Warrensburg.
The Mules are marking the occasion as Military Appreciation Day. All military personnel, active or retired, will be admitted free along with their families. In addition, hot dogs will cost $1 as a “Buck Day” promotion.
Whiteman Air Force Base, about 10 miles east of Warrensburg, is the home of the 509th Bomb Wing, a fleet of B-2 Stealth Bombers designed to strike targets from long range.
The Lions carried a 13-game winning streak into Thursday’s doubleheader at Emporia State, but were swept by the Hornets 5-4 in eight innings and 7-3.
The Lions were scheduled to have three off days before today’s doubleheader, but the games at Emporia, originally set for Tuesday, were pushed back to Thursday because of threatening weather.
The Lions came into the week with the No. 2-ranked pitching staff in the MiAA. Brett Abell (4-2, 4.01 ERA) and Drew Noble (5-2, 4.22) were the starters at Emporia State.
The Lions other starters include juniors David Reese (4-4, 3.74) and Ryan Bates (3-1, 3.86) along with freshman Payton Walker (4-3, 2.38).
The Lions are batting .298 as a team, led by catcher Sam Ryan (.368), who leads the team in doubles (15) and slugging percentage (.526). Second baseman Michael McCoy is batting .346 and right fielder Dallas Burke is batting .344.
Central Missouri, ranked No. 5 in the ABCA/Collegiate Baseball Newspaper poll, hasn’t played at home since it swept a doubleheader against Lincoln on March 19. The Mules are coming off a 10-8 loss in the second game of a doubleheader Tuesday at Lincoln.
The Mules (25-7, 19-6 MIAA), who are in second place in the MIAA, lead the league in pitching with a 3.95 team ERA. Travis Higgs (4-0, 3.72 ERA) leads the starters, while Jake Heissler (4-0, 2.54 ERA) and Andrew Urban (3-2, 2.84 ERA) give the Mules depth in the bullpen.
UCM is batting .341 as team, led by right fielder Kevin Gratza’s .420 average. Third baseman Kyle Grieshaber is hitting .371 and leads the team in home runs (7), total bases (76) and walks (20).