The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

March 1, 2014

Lions sweep Fort Hays, run win streak to 12 games

Missouri Southern completed a four-game sweep of its MIAA series against Fort Hays State and extended its winning streak to 12 games Friday at Joe Becker Stadium. The Lions are off to the best start in school history.

Mitchell Osburn went 3-for-4 with two RBI and scored a run as the Lions won the first game 7-2. Tee Helsel drove in a run with an infield single and Zack Steadman drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the Lions’ 2-1 victory in the second game.

The Lions (12-0, 8-0 MIAA) are scheduled to play a nonleague game at 2 p.m. Wednesday against Missouri S&T at Rolla, then will return home and face Emporia State in a four-game MIAA series that begins at 3 p.m. Friday at Joe Becker Stadium.

Stephen Vaughn pitched two scoreless innings in both games in relief of starters Drew Noble (3-0) in the first game and Ryan Bates (2-0) in the second game.

“It feels good to give our starting pitchers a win,” said Vaughn, who picked up his third save in the second game. “We put seven (runs) up in the first game and we hit well yesterday. It’s nice to know we can win a close game like that.”

MSSU took a 1-0 lead in the first inning of the second game when leadoff batter Jared Lupo walked and later scored when Helsel beat out a slow roller down the third-base line for an infield single.

The Lions scored without a hit in the fourth inning on a walks to Brandon Weller and Dusty Harper, a wild pitch and Steadman’s sacrifice fly to right.

Bates (2-0) allowed six hits in seven innings, walked none and struck out five. Fort Hays scored in the sixth on Horace Johnson’s two-out RBI double into the left-field corner after a leadoff single by Alex King.

“That last game was a hard-fought game,” said MSSU head coach Bryce Darnell. “I was really pleased with Vaughn and our starters, Noble and Bates.

“The last game was our worst game from an offensive execution standpoint, but their relief pitcher really stymied us.”

Alex Cox, who relieved starter Fort Hays starter Nathan Zimmerman (0-2) in the fourth inning, allowed two hits and struck out four in four scoreless innings.

The Lions took a 3-0 first-inning lead in the first game. Logan Moon drove in a run with an infield single after Lupo and Osburn singled, then Robbe Ewing tripled into the left-field corner.

Osburn’s single to center in the second inning scored Evin Natick, who led off the inning with a single. Osburn gave the Lions a 5-0 lead in the fourth with a double down the left-field line that scored Austin White, who reached on an error.

“I just try to get good pitches to hit and help the team,” said Osburn, whose .405 batting average is the Lions’ third highest. “As a two-hole hitter, I just try to get the bat on the ball.”

The Lions added two runs in the fifth inning with the help of three Fort Hays errors. The only hit was Harper’s one-out single to left.

King’s two-run home run in the top of the fifth off Noble was the second home run the Lions have allowed in 96 innings.

Noble (3-0) allowed four hits in five innings, walked one and struck out four. Vaughn allowed one hit — Horace Johnson’s leadoff double off the left-field fence in the sixth — walked one and struck out four.

“He’s spectacular,” Osburn said of Vaughn. “He’s the go-to guy. When we need outs, he’s who we go to.”

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