(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Missouri Western took its first step toward an MIAA Tournament Championship Saturday by taking game one of a best-of-three series from Fort Hays State 9-1.
The Griffons (36-8) received a solid start from pitcher Brandon Simmons, and the Griffon offense scored three runs in each of the final two innings to pull away.
Simmons struck out eight batters over seven innings, while not giving up a run on seven hits and one walk.
The Griffon ace did run into a couple jams. The Tigers loaded the bases with one out in the third inning. Simmons got out of it inducing a fielders' choice to throw Shane Wade out at home, then striking out Clayton Garland.
In the fourth inning, Fort Hays put runners on first and second with none out. Horace Johnson attempted to move the runners up on a sacrifice bunt, but Simmons threw Kelton Rule out at third on the fielders' choice.
On the play, Simmons says he planted his cleat awkwardly and hurt his hip flexor on the play.
"My cleat kind of got stuck, and I went to pivot and something didn't feel right," Simmons said after the game. "I just kept trying to stretch it out during the game. That's ultimately why I ended up coming out. It was bothering me pretty bad."
Simmons powered through the pain giving up just three hits and striking out five more in the 3 2/3 innings after the play.
Offensively, Shawn Egge led the way going 3/4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Bubba Dotson, Kyle Simpson and Jimmy Smelcer each drove in two runs during the game.
Missouri Western faces Fort Hays in game two of the series Sunday at 1:00pm. Ethan Ward is expected to get the start for the Griffons.