Kansas City, Kan. -- Behind a complete-game performance from junior pitcher Ryan Bates, the Missouri Southern baseball team is in the championship game of the 2013 MIAA Baseball Tournament after defeating fourth-ranked Missouri Western 4-3 today at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.
Southern (33-19) will play in the championship game of the tournament for the first time since the 2001 season when the Lions fell to Central Missouri 7-3. That season, the Lions advanced the NCAA Regional Tournament, the last time that feat has been done by a Lions team. A win tomorrow will send the Lions to the Central Region Tournament next Thursday through Sunday.
Western (38-9) scored all three of its runs in the first inning of the game. Michael Schulze scored on a sacrifice fly from Nate Ramler, and Grant Fink hit a two-run home run for the scoring.
Lions starter Ryan Bates settled down and from that point on held the Griffons scoreless to earn the complete-game win. He went all nine and struck out five, while walking just one. He scattered ten hits and threw 146 pitches in the game. It is the second complete-game of the tournament for the Lions as Southern has yet to go to its bullpen.
Southern got on the board with a pair of runs each in the second and third innings. Shaun Hoover had a two-RBI double to score Thomas Wilson and Tee Helsel in the second, while Burke scored on a wild pitch in the third and Nick Doughty singled home Sam Ryan, as well in the inning.
Western would threaten putting a runner on in all but two innings of the game, but Bates worked out of jams and only allowed two runners to reach past first base, retiring the side twice.
Helsel and Doughty had a pair of hits each, with Helsel scoring a run and Doughty driving in one. Hoover had a hit and a pair of RBIs, while McCoy and Burke had the other two hits for the Lions. Burke and Ryan would score a run each.
The Lions will play in tomorrow's championship game at 11 am from CommunityAmerica Ballpark. They will play the winner of the Pittsburg State - Missouri Western game. That team will have to defeat Southern twice tomorrow to win the title. Southern only has to win one game to take the title and the automatic bid to the Regional Tournament. A win for the Lions would be the first MIAA Baseball Tournament Championship for Southern since the 1992 season.