Lions gear up for MIAA Tourney with 11-9 win over Southwest Baptist

Joplin, Mo. -- The Missouri Southern Lions closed out the regular season in style by defeating the Southwest Baptist Bearcats 11-9 Monday evening (May 3) at Joe Becker Stadium to finish off a four-game sweep of the Bearcats. 

The Bearcats got on the board first as Niko Saladis tripled home Justin Barnhart and Justin Crumpley added an RBI groundout that gave SBU an early two-run lead.

Fernando Lugo answered for the Lions with a two-run single in the bottom of the frame and Patrick Deao put the Lions on top by drawing a bases-loaded walk for the third run of the inning.

SBU regained the lead as Kyle Wise and Dominic Bouvier contributed RBI singles as part of a three-run third inning that put the Bearcats back on top by three runs.

The Lions (26-24, 20-18 MIAA) then broke through for five runs in the bottom of the third. 

CJ Matthews scored the first run of the inning on an error before Zach Caldwell singled home Patrick Deao that knotted the score at 5-5.

Joe Lincoln put the Lions back in front with a two-run single and Jacob Taylor capped the big inning with an RBI double that chased home Lincoln.

After the Bearcats (11-39, 9-31 MIAA) scored a pair of runs in the fourth to come within a run, the Lions responded in the bottom of the fourth as Matthews tripled and scored on an RBI groundout by Deao.

The Lions added another run in the fifth as Caldwell was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, stole second and third and then scored after Skyler Rawlins walked and was caught in a rundown and was eventually picked off on the play.

Paden Grubbs homered to lead off the seventh for SBU that made it a two-run game.  The Bearcats were not through in the inning and made it a one-run game on an RBI single by Kyle Tormanen. 

But Lincoln scored a valuable insurance run for the Lions in the bottom of the seventh by tripling with one out and scoring on a sacrifice fly by Taylor.

Tyler Jinks got the win for the Lions by pitching three innings in relief of starter Zak Porath.  Jinks allowed one earned run and struck out three.

Mitch Albright pitched two scoreless frames to earn his second save of the season.

Lincoln powered the Lions' offensive attack by going 3-of-5 at the plate and driving in two runs.  Lugo and Deao also had two RBI for the Lions.

The Lions will now set their sights on the MIAA Postseason Tournament in Kansas City, Kan.  The fifth-seeded Lions will play the No. 2 seed Emporia State Hornets on Thursday afternoon (May 6) at 3 p.m.

The Lions and Hornets split a four-game series earlier this season in Emporia, Kan.