The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

April 19, 2014

Bronchos strike in ninth inning to sink Southern, capture series

Cesar Wong’s home run in the ninth inning broke a 6-6 tie, and Central Oklahoma spoiled Missouri Southern’s Senior Day with an 8-6 victory Saturday in the final game of a four-game series at Joe Becker Stadium.

The loss, along with other MIAA results Saturday, dropped MSSU (23-22 overall, 16-20 MIAA) into 10th place in the standings. The top eight teams qualify for the postseason tournament.

Wong’s two-run home run with one out in the seventh inning cut MSSU’s lead to 6-5. On the first pitch of the ninth inning, shortstop Phillip Wilson homered to left field, and on the next pitch Wong followed with his second home run.

Center fielder Dilon Argo gave UCO an 8-6 lead with an RBI double that scored Matt Johnson, who had walked.

The Lions threatened to score in the bottom of ninth after one-out singles by Beau Phillips and Jared Lupo, but Argo made a diving catch on Brandon Weller’s line drive and threw to second base for a game-ending double play.

The Lions will play a single game at 6 p.m. Friday at Nebraska-Kearney in the first game of a four-game series. The two teams are scheduled to play a doubleheader at 1 p.m. Saturday and a single game at noon Sunday.

MSSU took a 5-2 lead against UCO with a five-run second inning that began when Phillips drew a leadoff walk. Bronchos starting pitcher Mason Justice had worked out of a first-inning jam after he walked the first two batters.

“He was kind of wild at the start, not throwing strikes consistently,” Phillips said. “We wanted to stay ahead in the count and be patient. We saw a lot of the same guys this weekend. It just really didn’t fall our way.”

The Lions loaded the bases when Lupo reached on an infield single off the pitcher’s glove and second baseman Nathan Skaggs walked. Austin White then grounded a single into left field that scored Phillips.

Bases-loaded walks to Logan Moon and Evin Natick forced in two runs, and sacrifice flies by Axel Johnson and Dusty Harper gave the Lions a 5-2 lead.

The Lions added a run in the third inning on Natick’s two-out, bases-loaded single to right field. Skaggs scored on the play, but White was thrown out at the plate by right fielder Robbie Hoffman.

In the eighth inning, Weller and Moon walked and advanced on a wild pitch. After a one-out intentional walk to Natick, left-hander Kyler Trumble (1-1) came on in relief and struck out the next two batters.

Lions starter Matt Harvey, a freshman, allowed eight hits, walked two and struck out four in 6 2/3 innings.

“It’s an honor,” said Harvey, who is 0-0 in five starts with a 3.76 ERA. “When I wasn’t in the starting rotation, I just went out there like I was competing for a spot. They (the Bronchos) hit balls that are given to them and they have good at bats almost every at bat.”

Stephen Vaughn (3-3), who broke the school record with his 27th appearance, took the loss.

Central Oklahoma (32-11, 25-11) remained in second place in the MIAA behind Central Missouri. Northeastern State (17-19) defeated Southwest Baptist on Saturday and moved into eighth place. Northwest Missouri (15-18) slipped to ninth after the Bearcats lost twice to Emporia State for the second straight day.

Northeastern State will face Washburn in a four-game series next weekend at Tahlequah, and Northwest Missouri will face Pittsburg State in a four-game series at Maryville.

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