Joplin, Mo. -- The Missouri Southern Lions scored seven runs over the first three innings and made it hold, defeating Northwest Missouri 7-6 today in the first game of the four-game conference series at Joe Becker Stadium.
Southern (6-4, 2-3 MIAA) picked up a strong game pitching from Brett Abell as the junior went eight innings, allowing just two runs over the first eight, before exiting in the ninth after allowing three earned runs. He struck out ten and walked just one. Austin Brown came in to releive and got the next three outs for the save.
Northwest (0-10, 0-5 MIAA) starter Anthony Moctezuma lasted just an inning and two thirds before he was relieved by Nick Calderone who threw three and a third of one-run ball. A trio of other relievers held the Lions scoreless for the remainder of the game.
The Lions got the scoring started on an RBI single in the first by Dallas Burke, scoring Jesse Kinzey. After a pair of runs from Northwest to go ahead 2-1 in the top of the second, Southern broke the game open with five runs in the bottom of the second, highlighted by back-to-back home runs from CJ Matthews and Jim Gilkerson. Cullen Baxter would drive in three with a bases-clearing double in the inning, as well.
The Lions picked up another run in the third when Matthews scored after Dane Kolkmeyer reached on an error and that run proved to be vital. Neither team would score until the ninth as both pitching staffs settled in, but Northwest would make it interesting in the ninth, scoring four and getting to within one, before Brown came in to record the save.
Matthews went 2-4 in the game with a double and a home run, scoring two runs and driving in another. Harrison Gerber was 3-4 with a pair of runs, while Baxter drove in three. Gilkerson added a home run, while Kolkmeyer was 2-5 with a run and an RBI.
The Lions will get back at it tomorrow afternoon with a pair of games against the Bearcats at 1 pm from Joe Becker.