The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

February 16, 2014

Lions earn 4-game sweep in debut series

Missouri Southern completed a four-game sweep of its season-opening series Sunday with 12-0 and 5-2 victories against Minnesota-Crookston at Joe Becker Stadium.

The Lions supported starting pitchers Ryan Bates and Drew Noble with 24 hits. Center fielder Logan Moon and third baseman Brandon Weller each had four hits in the doubleheader.

Bates, a senior right-hander, struck out five of the first six batters he faced in Sunday’s first game.

“Usually, my main motto is attack, get ahead early and good things happen,” said Bates, who allowed four hits and no walks in five scoreless innings. “Kus (pitching coach Jason Immekus) preaches if you get ahead early, good things will happen.”

Nathan Strobel, a freshman from Republic, pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Bates, and Matt Harvey, a freshman from Seckman High School, pitched two scoreless innings of relief in the second game.

“I was really pleased with the way Harvey and Strobel threw the ball,” said Lions head coach Bryce Darnell. “It was good to see those two guys on the mound.”

Missouri Southern begins its MIAA schedule Friday with a four-game series against Lincoln in Jefferson City.

“We have to play better than we did in game 4,” Darnell said after the Lions stranded seven baserunners in scoring position. “We did enough things to win, but we have to do better in our situational hitting.”

Left fielder Beau Phillips gave the Lions a 2-0 lead in Sunday’s first game with a two-run, opposite-field double to left in the second inning.

The Lions added four runs in the third inning on Moon’s RBI single, a two-run home run to right-center field by first baseman Dusty Harper and Brett Graham’s run-scoring single to center, his first RBI as a college player. Graham is a freshman from Joplin.

The Lions’ six-run sixth inning was aided by four walks and a hit batsman. Moon, Graham and freshman shortstop Austin White each drove in a run with a single.

“I’m fairly impressed with our hitting,” Bates said. “We hit the ball hard.”

In the second game, the Lions took a 1-0 lead on Harper’s RBI double to center field and added a run in the second inning when Zack Steadman scored from first base on White’s single to right field.

Robbe Ewing reached on an error and scored on Steadman’s single in the fourth, and the Lions added two runs in the fifth on a double by Moon and run-scoring singles by Evan Natick and Steadman.

Senior right-hander Stephen Vaughn struck out the side in the ninth and picked up his first save.

“All four pitchers did really well, threw strikes, and Vaughn shut them down,” Bates said. “We’re way deeper in the pen than we were last year.”

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