The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

March 18, 2014

13-run inning helps MSSU pound College of Ozarks

Missouri Southern pounded 31 hits in a 28-9 victory against College of the Ozarks in a nonconference game Tuesday at Joe Becker Stadium.

Three Lions had four hits — designated hitter Axel Johnson, second baseman Brandon Weller and left fielder Beau Phillips. Five others had three hits.

The peformance approached school records. The MSSU record for runs scored in a game is 32, and the record for hits is 34, both against Missouri-St. Louis in 1992.

Weller had three doubles and raised his season total to 14 doubles in 22 games.

“That’s what I strive for, hit the ball in the gaps, but a lot of it has to do with finding the right holes,” said Weller, who raised his batting average to .397, second on the team to Logan Moon’s .413.

Leadoff batter Zack Steadman had four hits, including a double, and scored three runs. “Coach (Bryce Darnell) moved me to leadoff in the last game at Lindenwood,” said Steadman, who has 10 hits in 22 at bats. “I felt like it was my responsibility to get the team going and step up.

“It’s a good confidence booster. We’ll take the win and the confidence booster.”

Missouri Southern (14-8 overall, 9-7 MIAA) broke a six-game losing streak and will face Central Missouri (14-9, 11-5) in a four-game series beginning Friday at Warrensburg. The Mules split a four-game series last weekend at Nebraska-Kearney, winning 11-7 and 8-1 and losing 20-3 and 8-2.

College of the Ozarks (12-13) had 16 hits in the game and trailed 10-7 after four innings. Five Bobcats had at least two hits, led by first baseman Malachi Melton, who was 2-for-4 with a home run and four RBI, and right fielder Austin Schweiss, who was 2-for-4 with three RBI.

“It was a windy day. We knew it was going to be tough,” Darnell said. “We’re in a better frame of mind. We lost a couple of tough ones at Lindenwood. It was just good to go out and win a game.”

The Lions led 15-9 going into the bottom of the seven inning, then scored 13 runs, including 11 with two outs. Weller, Phillips and Jared Lupo each had two hits in the inning, and Nathan Skaggs of Carl Junction had his first collegiate hit when he grounded an RBI single into left field.

Skylar Hill (2-0), the third of five Lions pitchers, picked up the win. He allowed five hits and two runs in 3 1/3 innings, walked one and struck out four.

MSSU scored seven runs in the first inning, including two-run singles by Johnson and Dusty Harper. The Bobcats rallied for four runs in the third when Schweiss lined a three-run triple off the fence in right-center field and Timmy Townsend doubled off the fence in right.

Moon, who had seven RBI, gave the Lions a 10-4 lead in the bottom of the inning when his three-run home run hit the word “Home” on the scoreboard in right center.

Melton brought the Bobcats to within 10-7 in the fourth when his two-run home run cleared two outbuildings and hit the roof of a house far beyond the fence in left-center field.

The Lions scored twice in the fifth, highlighted by back-to-back doubles by Lupo and Steadman, and added three runs in the sixth on RBI singles by Harper, Steadman and Mitchell Osburn.

MSSU scored twice in the seventh before 13 consecutive batters reached base with two outs, including Moon’s three-run double off the fence in left-center field.

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