(KANSAS CITY, Kan.) The road became longer Friday, but Missouri Western kept their chance to finish the job in the MIAA Tournament.
The Griffons began the day with a 4-3 loss to Missouri Southern, but prevailed 11-4 over Pittsburg State to earn a championship berth against MSSU Saturday. Western (39-9) would need to beat the Lions twice to capture the tournament crown.
MSSU pitcher Ryan Bates surrendered all three of Western's runs in the first inning. Nate Ramler sent a sacrifice fly to right field for the opening tally. Grant fink followed that up with a two-run home run, tying the program's single season mark with his 14th long ball of the year.
The Lions did all their damage in the next two frames with Shaun Hoover, Sam Ryan, and Nick Doughty provided RBI. The Griffons threatened several times over the final six innings, but couldn't get the hits to fall with men in scoring position.
Bates pitched a complete game, fanning five Griffons, including Bubba Dotson to end the game. Jerad Hawkins (6-1) suffered his first loss of the season, tossing 6 1/3 innings, giving up six hits while striking out three.
Western got off to just as hot of a start against the Gorillas, producing another three-run first with an RBI double from Dotson followed by a pair of run-scoring line outs from Ramler and David Chew.
They added to that this time around, scoring six more times over the next three frames. Chew knocked a solo homer in the third, while Spencer Shockley and Shawn Egge delivered RBI singles in the fifth.
That proved to be enough cushion for Ethan Ward (4-3), despite giving up 11 hits in seven innings.
The first pitch between Western and Missouri Southern is at 11 a.m. Saturday.