No. 4 Missouri Western scored three in the seventh and three in the eight to bust open a tight game and defeat the Fort Hays State Tigers 9-1 in game one of their best-of-three First-Round MIAA Tournament series at Griffon Baseball Field in St. Joseph Saturday afternoon.
The Griffons improve to 36-8 and need one more win to advance to Final Four double-elimination tournament in Kansas City starting Thursday. The Tigers have lost three straight and are now 23-21.
The Griffons struck first, scoring a run in the first on Grant Fink’s two-out single. They added two in the fourth on RBI singles from Jimmy Smelcer and Shawn Egge.
The Tigers had their chances, loading the bases with one out in the third then again with one out in the fourth but failed to score on both occasions. Jordan Miller grounded to third and Clayton Garland struck out to end the threat in the third. Griffon starter Brandon Simmons then struck out Jay Sanders and Chris Santoscoy to deny the Tigers in the fourth.
Fort Hays State would get two on with one out in the sixth, but again Simmons shut the door getting Shane Wade to line out to right field and Jay Sanders to ground back to the mound.
Simmons (10-0) picks up the win, scattering seven hits while tying a season high with eight strikeouts and walking just one. in 7.0 innings. Tayler Davis (6-5) takes the loss for the Tigers, allowing six runs (five earned) on 10 hits over 6 1/3 innings. Davis struck out three and walked two. Kyle Leroy pitched the final 1 2/3 for the Tigers, giving up three runs, two on a Bubba Dotson two-run homer.
The Tigers scored their lone run on a Horace Johnson single to center in the eighth, driving in Kelton Rule who doubled off the right field wall. Johnson, Rule and Shane Wade all had two hits to lead the Tiger offense.