The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

April 2, 2014

Hill settles in, shuts down Gorillas

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Missouri Southern pitcher Skylar Hill found himself in a difficult position early.

Hill allowed singles to the first two batters of the game and walked another to load the bases.

However, the junior right-hander made it through the jam unscathed and went on to pitch 7 2/3 scoreless innings in a 3-0 win against rival Pittsburg State as part of the Sonic Trophy Series on Tuesday at Al Ortolani Field. The matchup was a nonconference game.

“He settled in there,” Missouri Southern coach Bryce Darnell said. “Those were kind of tough-luck singles. A couple feet either way, and they’re outs. But he was able to work out of it. He pitched a great game. We really didn’t know what to expect from him just because his last outing wasn’t great, but he pitched awesome today and I’m extremely proud of him.”

Hill (3-0) finished with six strikeouts, while allowing six hits, three walks and one hit batter. After allowing three hits and two walks over the first two innings, Hill let only one Pittsburg State batter reach base over the next three.

“That first inning I struggled a little bit to find my command,” Hill said. “After that second inning, my fastball command started to get a little better. I started throwing more strikes and let my defense do the work.”

Pittsburg State’s Derek Hackney led off with a single between first and second base in the bottom of the first. Aaron Boucher followed with an infield single that moved Hackney to second.

Hill then got Brad Foss to pop up to the catcher and Kyle Dickens to ground out to second before walking Evan Thomas and loading the bases. Kyle Dickens then grounded out to end the inning.

“We didn’t execute very well offensively,” said Pittsburg State assistant Nick Phillips, who was filling in for suspended head coach Matt Murray. “I thought we had them on the ropes early in the game, and we just kind of let them off the hook. The next thing you know, we look up in the sixth inning and we’re still being shut out.”

In the Gorillas’ previous game, Murray was ejected during a 9-8 loss to Lindenwood on March 30 at St. Charles, Mo. By rule, Murray was given a four-game suspension. He will be able to return for Pittsburg State’s fourth game of a series against Southwest Baptist this weekend.

Missouri Southern (19-12) was led offensively by the middle of its order. The Lions’ 3 through 6 batters — Logan Moon, Axel Johnson, Brandon Weller and Robbe Ewing — each garnered two hits.

Moon led off the fourth inning with a triple and scored on Johnson’s single. Ewing later knocked in Johnson.

Foss led Pittsburg State (13-18) with two of the team’s six hits.

The Lions are on a five-game winning streak after losing 12 of their previous 14.

“I think we’re starting to get our confidence back,” Hill said. “Hopefully, we keep it rolling.”

Missouri Southern will begin a four-game series at Northwest Missouri State at 2 p.m. Friday. Pittsburg State will be at home against Southwest Baptist on Friday.

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