The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

March 20, 2014

MSSU baseball ready for big series against Mules

— Missouri Southern will begin a four-game series against Central Missouri with a doubleheader at 3 p.m. today at Warrensburg in a matchup that could reshape the MIAA baseball standings.

MSSU (14-8, 9-7 MIAA) bolstered its hitting statistics with a 28-9 victory Tuesday against College of the Ozarks at Joe Becker Stadium. Central Missouri is coming off a split in a four-game series last weekend at Nebraska-Kearney.

The series will resume with a doubleheader at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Central Missouri (14-9, 11-5) was picked No. 1 in the preseason MIAA coaches poll. The Mules are a game behind league-leading Central Oklahoma (16-4, 12-4) in the standings.

Missouri Southern, meanwhile, is in a three-way tie for fifth place with Nebraska-Kearney and Washburn. All are one game behind third-place Emporia State, while Northwest Missouri is fourth.

Center fielder Logan Moon leads Missouri Southern in batting average (.413), hits (33) and RBI (25). Second baseman Brandon Weller is batting .397 with 31 hits, including 16 for extra bases (14 doubles and two triples) and has 24 RBI. Catcher Mitchell Osburn is batting .375. As a team, the Lions are batting .328.

Third baseman Robbe Ewing (.320) and first baseman Dusty Harper (.311) are the other regulars above .300. Designated hitter Axel Johnson is batting .324 in nine games since his return from an injury.

MSSU’s top four starting pitchers are David Reese (3-1, 1.80 ERA), Payton Walker (4-1, 3.34 ERA), Drew Noble (3-2, 4.78 ERA) and Ryan Bates (2-1, 5.00 ERA). Stephen Vaughn (0-1, 3.24 ERA) has three saves.

The Mules are batting .294 as a team, led by third baseman Tony Sandifer (.392), designated hitter and Joplin High School grad Barrett Noirfalise (.387) and leadoff batter and left fielder Jake Alexander (.385).

UCM’s top four starting pitchers are Jake Heissler (4-1, 2.08), Ricky Rivera (4-0, 2.93 ERA), Kurtis Schuyler (1-2, 4.03 ERA) and Kyle Gehrs (2-2, 5.25). Rivera, a transfer from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M at Miami, pitched last summer for the Joplin Outlaws. Zach Davis (2-0, 2.55) has two saves.

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