The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 4, 2013

RiverHawks sink Southern in MIAA tourney opener

By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer

— Kyle Shambaugh scattered five hits in 72⁄3 innings Saturday as Northeastern (Okla.) State defeated Missouri Southern 4-2 in the MIAA Postseason Tournament at Joe Becker Stadium.

Shambaugh, a sophomore left-hander from Jay, Okla., walked none and struck out four as the RiverHawks won the first game of the three-game series.

The series resumes at noon today. A third game, if necessary, also will be played today.

Lions senior left-hander Brett Abell broke the school record for strikeouts in a season when he fanned shortstop Andrew Walker in the top of the third inning. Abell, who struck out six, raised his season total to 98. The old record of 94 was set by Tim Luther in 1991.

Abell (4-3), who was relieved by junior right-hander David Reese with one out in the ninth, allowed six hits and walked one. Three of the four runs he allowed were unearned.

“These games are tight games,” said Missouri Southern head coach Bryce Darnell. “We were uncharacteristic on defense tonight. Tomorrow, we’ll bounce back and play better.”

Missouri Southern (29-19), the tournament’s No. 3 seed, came into the game with a .965 fielding percentage. The school record is .962 set last season.

Leading 2-1 in the eighth, sixth-seeded NSU (28-21) loaded the bases with one out on a walk, a hit batsman and an error. Designated hitter Cody Robinson then hit a line drive near the right-field line that was slicing away from right fielder Dallas Burke when he made a diving catch. Trent Wilkins scored from third on the sacrifice fly.

The RiverHawks added a run in the ninth when Preston Cash singled, moved to second on a sacrifice and scored on a throwing error after Andrew Walker’s infield single.

Shambaugh retired 11 of the first 12 batters he faced. The exception was Lions designated hitter Nick Doughty, who gave the Lions a 1-0 lead with a leadoff home run to right-center field in the third inning.

“It was a 1-2 count,” Doughty said. “The first two pitches, I wasn’t ready to hit. Then one came in and I just tried to stay short and stay through it.”

The RiverHawks took a 2-1 lead in the fifth on Wilkins’ two-run double down the left-field line after a single and an error placed NSU runners at first and third.

After that, Abell retired eight batters in a row until one out in the eighth. Abell threw 108 pitches; Reece needed only six pitches to record the last two outs.

“Abell gets us deep in the game and today was no exception,” Darnell said. “Their second baseman (Chad Davidson) made some pretty good plays in the middle innings. Their starting pitcher was equally as good as Brett.”

Shambaugh was relieved by Trevor Walch, the RiverHawks’ closer, after he allowed an infield single by Burke with two out in the eighth. Lions catcher Sam Ryan was hit by a pitch, and designated hitter Will Wagner grounded a single up the middle that drove in Burke and pulled the Lions to within 3-2.

“We really beat ourselves,” Wagner said. “Don’t get me wrong. They’re a good team. We weren’t hitting it on the barrel. It’s a good thing this is a series.”

Walch retired the Lions in order in the ninth and picked up his 10th save.