Brett Abell had been searching for the answers ever since his return to college baseball after Tommy John surgery.
He found them in Missouri Southern’s 5-2 victory against Truman State in the second game of an MIAA doubleheader Saturday afternoon at Joe Becker Stadium.
Abell allowed seven hits, walked none, had a career-high 12 strikeouts and pitched a nine-inning complete game after Truman won the first game 3-2.
“I felt like my old self physically,” Abell said. “I felt like I had my old stuff again.
“You can’t walk people on days like this with the wind blowing in. You’ll get beat. That was a 100 percent team win right there. That’s how we need to play all the time.”
Abell, who sat out the 2012 season as a medical reshirt, came into the game with an 0-2 record and 8.27 ERA in four starts. He pitched 7 2/3 innings in his last start, an 8-6 loss to Central Methodist on March 9.
“I thought Brett today and the last six innings of his last outing that he’s back to his regular self,” said MSSU head coach Bryce Darnell. “Any time you strike out 12 and walk zero, you’re on your game.”
Abell, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound senior from Miami, Okla., threw 112 pitches and struck out two batters in the sixth, eighth and ninth innings. He ended the game by striking out pinch-hitter Nick Franklin.
“After the surgery, I’ve been working with Kus’ program,” Abell said of MSSU pitching coach Jason Immekus. “You actually get stronger as the game goes on. I have to give him a lot of credit. I really do.”
The victory snapped a six-game losing streak for the Lions (9-10, 5-9 MIAA), who face Truman again at 11 a.m. today in a single nine-inning game that is threatened by a rainy weather forecast.
Truman (5-13, 5-12) pulled to within 2-1 with an unearned run in the sixth inning, then tied the game 2-2 on Joe Emery’s two-out double in the seventh that drove in Jordan Howe.
The Lions had just three hits in the first seven innings against Truman starter Jarrett Eiskina (0-3), who had retired seven batters in a row going into the eighth inning.
In the eighth, Michael McCoy and Thomas Wilson singled, and the runners advanced on a passed ball. With first base open, Truman intentionally walked Dallas Burke, who hit a solo home run in the third inning, to face right fielder Sam Ryan.
“We’ve been preaching all year about executing the situation,” said Ryan, who drove a grounder through the middle of the infield for an RBI single. “My whole purpose was just to put the ball in play. The rest just goes.”
Tee Helsel drove in Wilson with an infield out, and Burke scored on Nick Doughty’s squeeze bunt.
The Lions’ Payton Walker (0-3) pitched his first complete game in three starts in the seven-inning first game. He allowed six hits, walked three and struck out three.
The Lions, trailing 3-0 going into the bottom of the seventh, scored twice on singles by Shaun Hoover and Zack Steadman aided by two Truman errors. Ryan, who had the game-winning hit in the second game, flied out to end the first game.
Truman right-hander Logan Siegler (2-2) allowed five hits and a walk in seven innings. He struck out three.
The Bulldogs scored a run in the first and second innings, both on fielder’s choices, and added a run in the sixth when first baseman Paul Trenhaile doubled and scored on an error.