March 9, 2014

Walker strike outs nine as Southern baseball splits with Emporia State

Joplin, Mo. - With sophomore pitcher Payton Walker pitching into the eighth inning and striking out nine batters, the Missouri Southern baseball team split a MIAA doubleheader this afternoon at Joe Becker Stadium with the Emporia State Hornets dropping game one 2-1 before prevailing in game two 12-8.

The Lions (13-2, 9-1 MIAA) were led on the day offensively by center fielder Logan Moon who combined to go 5-for-7 with a triple and four singles while scoring a run and driving in three runs. Catcher Mitchell Osburn also had a solid day at the dish going 3-for-7 while scoring a pair of runs and collecting two RBI's. The Lions collected six hits in game one, and really got the offense going on game two picking up 13. 

Game one turned out to be a pitching duel as both starters went the distance with the Lions David Reese only allowing seven hits, two earned runs while striking out eight. Unfortunately for Reese, who was named the National Pitcher of the Week by d2baseball.com, he was the hard luck loser as the Hornets' (8-5, 5-4) Shawn Talkington was just slightly better as he only allowed six hits and an earned run with four strikeouts.

The Lions got on the scoreboard first in the bottom of the first as third baseman Tee Helsel drove in shortstop Jared Lupo from third on a fielder's choice. Looking to add to the lead, designated hitter Axel Johnson, seeing his first game action of the year, singled to right putting runners at first and second for second baseman Brandon Weller, but he popped up to left to end the threat. Facing just two batters over the minimum through his first five innings of work, Reese ran into trouble in the sixth as he allowed two runs on a single and a groundout as that would be enough to steal a victory in game one.

The backend of the doubleheader saw much more offense as Emporia State started things off in the first doubling their output from game one scoring four runs. The Lions answered back with back-to-back three-run innings in the second and the third as first baseman Dusty Harper hit a two-run double to left center in the second and Brandon Weller added a two-run double in the third.

Southern added one more run in the sixth off a Moon single to center before tagging on five additional runs in the seventh as Osburn and Moon each picked up two RBI's along with Evan Natick driving in a run to take a commanding 12-4 lead after five. The Hornets added four runs in the top of the ninth to cut the Lions' lead in half at 12-8, but Skylar Hill came on in relief of Nathan Strobel to retire three of the four hitters he faced as Southern held on for the victory.

The two teams are back at it tomorrow at Joe Becker Stadium as they wrap up the series with a doubleheader starting at noon.