(MANKATO, Minn.) Brandon Simmons gave up just one home run this season prior to his start on Thursday.
Three longballs fueled third-seeded Southern Arkansas to a 6-1 win over Missouri Western in the opening round of the NCAA Central Regional in Mankato, Minn.
The MIAA Pitcher of the Year, Simmons surrendered his first loss of the season, giving up eight hits and all six runs through eight innings. Only five runs were earned as the Griffons (40-11) committed a pair of errors.
Western threatened multiple times, including a bases-loaded, no-out situation against James Baune, but the Muleriders' pitcher scattered eight hits and struck out seven in 7 1/3 innings. He was removed in the eighth after Nate Ramler scored the Griffons' only run with an RBI single.
Justin Thomas struck out three of the final five batters he faced to close it out.
The Griffons must win out to avoid being bounced in the double elimination bracket. They face No. 1 seed Minnesota State-Mankato Friday at 3:30 p.m.