Hoke's big offensive day helps Lions split with Tigers

Hays, Kan. -- Shayne Hoke drove in six runs as the Missouri Southern Lions erupted for 14 runs and defeated the Fort Hays State Tigers 14-10 in the second game of a doubleheader Sunday afternoon (Apr. 25) in Hays, Kan.  The Tigers slipped by the Lions 10-9 in the opener as the two schools split the four-game weekend series.

The Lions are now currently tied with Missouri Western for sixth in the MIAA standings.  The top six finishing schools will advance to the MIAA Postseason Tournament in Kansas City, Kan.   

The Lions jumped ahead early in the nightcap on an RBI double by Joe Lincoln in the first inning. 

Connor Martin hit a solo homer in the bottom of the first for the Tigers that knotted the score at 1-1.

The Lions regained the lead on a two-run single by Hoke in the third before the Tigers answered with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning on an RBI double by Nash Smith.

Hoke then delivered a three-run double in the fourth to cap a huge six-run inning for the Lions. 

Skyler Rawlins hit a lead-off homer and Fernando Lugo chipped in with an RBI infield single.  Lincoln also drew a bases-loaded walk in the inning that saw the Lions pull ahead to a 9-2 lead.

The score was 9-4 when CJ Matthews homered in the fifth to put the Lions up by six runs.

The Lions' defense hurt them in the bottom of the fifth as three errors led to five unearned runs for the Tigers that quickly made it just a one-run game.

But Hoke again came through at the plate, this time with a two-run homer in the sixth that gave the Lions some breathing room at 12-9.

After Kelton Rule hit a solo homer that cut the deficit to two runs, Lincoln and Jacob Taylor hit back-to-back homers in the seventh that gave the Lions a pair of valuable insurance runs. 

Starter Zak Porath got the win for the Lions in 4 2/3 innings of work.  He gave up nine runs, but only three were earned and he struck out four batters. 

CJ Maffei pitched the final 2 1/3 innings and allowed one run with three strikeouts to pick up the save.

Hoke was 3-of-5 at the plate with the six RBI, while Lincoln was a perfect 4-of-4 with three RBI and three runs scored.

The first game didn't start out well for the Lions (22-24, 16-18 MIAA) as an error led to three unearned runs in the bottom of the first that put the Lions in an early 3-0 hole.

Zach Caldwell came up in the third and delivered a two-run single that brought the Lions to within a run.

Lugo then gave the Lions the lead with a two-run shot in the top of the fourth.

But the lead was short-lived as a two-run triple by Nash Smith capped a five-run bottom of the fourth for the Tigers (27-19, 19-17 MIAA) that put the Lions down 8-4.

The Lions fought back to within a run on an RBI single by Lincoln in the fifth and run-scoring singles from Matthews and Patrick Deao in the sixth. 

The Tigers though responded with homers from Jordan Payne and Sloan Soulia in the bottom of the sixth that once again put them on top by three runs.

The Lions refused to go quietly as Lincoln led off the seventh with a walk that was followed by a two-run shot by Taylor that brought the Lions to within a single tally. 

Southern then loaded the bases with two out, but reliever Mat Atkinson got Caldwell to strike out to end the game.

Kevin Humphrey started the game for the Lions and gave up six runs in six innings and struck out three.

Taylor went 3-of-4 at the dish for the Lions, with a pair of RBI and two runs scored.

The Lions will wrap up the regular season with a four-game set at home against Southwest Baptist, beginning with a doubleheader on Friday afternoon. (Apr. 30) The first game is set for 4 p.m. at Joe Becker Stadium.