The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

May 17, 2013

Lions squeezed in 14-inning loss to Minnesota State

MANKATO, Minn. — An instant classic.

But in the bottom of the 14th, Todd Standish’s two-out squeeze bunt produced the only run as Minnesota State nipped Missouri Southern 1-0 Thursday night in the first round of the NCAA Division II Central Regional.

Starting pitchers Brett Abell of Missouri Southern and Jason Hoppe of Minnesota State battled through 11 scoreless innings. Abell stretched his scoreless inning streak to 20 innings, Hoppe to 432⁄3 innings dating back to April 7.

Relievers Ryan Bates of the Lions and Mahlon Zimmerman of the Mavericks continued the duel for another three innings.

The Lions’ heartbreaker capped a disappointing day for the MIAA as Missouri Western lost to Southern Arkansas 6-1 and Central Missouri fell to St. Cloud State 11-2 in the first two games of the day.

The Lions now face Central Missouri in an elimination game today at noon. The Mules won two of three games over the Lions in Warrensburg during the regular season.

Abell, who shut out Pittsburg State 9-0 in the MIAA Tournament opener last week, gave up only five hits, struck out 11 batters and walked two. Three of his strikeouts came in succession in the 11th after an error gave Minnesota State a runner on third base with nobody out.

Abell’s 11 innings tied the school record held by Dwayne Walters against Oklahoma State on May 6, 1996, and Gary Bradshaw against Missouri Western on March 12, 1983. Abell’s 1051⁄3 innings this season are the most in school history.

Then in the 12th the Mavericks had a runner on second with two outs, but Bates picked him off base to end the inning.

The Lions had a chance in the 13th with runners on second and third with two outs, but a groundout ended the threat.

Bates, on a 2-2 pitch, hit Mike Eckart to start the Minnesota State 14th, and he moved to second on Jon Flattery’s sacrifice. Scott Lindner’s grounder to second for the second out moved Eckart to third, and Standish dropped a bunt down the third-base line that Tee Helsel couldn’t handle to end the game.

Hoppe allowed seven hits, fanned seven and walked two in 102⁄3 innings.

Sam Ryan, whose ninth-inning home run four days earlier won the MIAA Tournament championship game over Missouri Western, went 4-for-6 to lead the Lions’ 10-hit attack. Dane Kolkmeyer contributed two hits.

The 14-inning game matched the longest game in MSSU history. The previous 14-inning affair also came in the postseason and also was in Minnesota as the Lions beat Winona State 5-4 on May 16, 1985. That game actually was played over two days as a rain delay earlier in the day and no lights on the Winona State field produced a suspension because of darkness.

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