The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

April 23, 2014

Lions held to six hits in loss to Drury

Luke Tewes hit a three-run home run in Drury’s six-run third inning and the No. 22 Panthers defeated Missouri Southern 6-2 in a nonconference game Tuesday night at Joe Becker Stadium.

Drury (31-9) outhit the Lions 7-6 and was aided by three unearned runs. Center fielder Nick Thimesch was 2-for-5 with a run scored and an RBI, and second baseman Cole Faulconer had two hits and scored a run.

“In a nine-inning game, to get six or seven hits, it’s not going to win enough games,” said Lions head coach Bryce Darnell. “We didn’t handle a push bunt and we didn’t handle a throw down to second base. We have to play nearly perfect. We’re not good enough on offense to overcome mistakes on defense.”

Drury’s third-inning outburst began with Faulconer’s leadoff single. Catcher Matt Morris reached first base on a misplayed sacrifice bunt, and Faulconer scored on Emilio Villanueva’s bunt single.

With one out, Thimesch drove in Morris with a single to center field and advanced to second on a misplayed throw that allowed Villanueva to score. After Caleb Cole walked, Tewes’ home run to left field gave the Panthers a 6-0 lead.

Drury starter Ryan Colombo (5-1) allowed two unearned run on five hits in 6 1/3 innings. Gage Jacobs recorded his fifth save.

MSSU left fielder Evin Natick, who was 2-for-5, drove in the Lions’ first run in the fifth inning with a two-out double after Jared Lupo reached on an error and stole second.

“I felt good at the plate,” said Natick, who hit a one-out double in the first inning. “I want to get as comfortable as possible going into this four-game series. We have a huge weekend coming up.”

The Lions (23-23) will wrap up their regular-season season schedule when they begin a four-game MIAA series at 6 p.m. Thursday at Nebraska-Kearney. A doubleheader is scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday, followed by a single game at 1 p.m. Saturday.

The Lions added a run in the seventh inning when Austin White reached on an error, Logan Moon walked and right fielder Axel Johnson grounded an RBI single into center field.

Johnson and designated hitter Matt Smith were 2-for-4. Smith is the Lions’ backup catcher.

“I just figure out my role with the team,” said Smith, a freshman who has started in 15 games. “Wherever they put me in the lineup, I just try to play my best.”

Drew Noble, who came on in relief at the start of the seventh inning, pitched two scoreless innings. Stephen Vaughn, in a school-record 28th appearance in a season, pitched a scoreless ninth.

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