Everybody loves those before-and-after photos on late-night TV infomercials.
We can now use before-and-after on the Pittsburg State baseball team.
Before the start of a 10-game homestand, the Gorillas owned a 5-11 record.
After winning eight of 10 games at Al Ortolani, Pitt State evened its record at 13-13 overall and 10-10 in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association.
The Gorillas head into their weekend series with Lindenwood playing their best baseball of the season, aside from a 10-4 loss to Northeastern State and 4-1 loss to Washburn.
"It was nice to be home for the past 10 games," Pitt State head coach Matt Murray said. "8-2 here and our second half is in front of us. We're back to square in conference and we're back to square overall. I think our players are starting to get a little better idea of what we want and what we need to do. It should be a great second half."
Pitt State won on a 13th inning walk-off passed ball off a botched intentional walk Sunday against Washburn and came out slugging Tuesday against Newman in a 17-3 win.
Players were buzzing after both victories.
"I've never been part of a game that's ended in an intentional walk passed ball," senior shortstop Evan Thomas said. "I've been part of some eventful games but that probably tops them right there."
"In all my years of playing, I have never been part of a game like that," sophomore reliever Ryan McKay said. "It was a tremendous team win. It was awesome to be part of it. Like you said, it was a crazy, crazy ending. That's the great thing about baseball. You see something everyday and you saw what our team do. As long as we keep plugging away and different guys contribute at different times, a lot of times things will come out alright."
"I've never been a part of a game like that," senior pitcher Tyler Thompson said. "It's just a credit to our team. We keep battling. We're always trying to find a way to win and today, we came out on top, so that's always nice."
"That was an exciting game," senior infielder Brad Foss said. "I've been part of a few but nothing like that before. That was pretty crazy, that's all I can say."
Andrew Kreiling scored the winning run Sunday, making a heads-up play on the bases after seeing Washburn's immense difficulty in executing the intentional walk the first three exchanges. Even the home plate umpire was instructing the catcher, something like "You know you don't have to go that far outside."
"You never know what's going to happen in baseball," Murray said. "Strange thing is, I didn't even see it. I was visiting with Cody Ball on-deck and I'm very thankful that Andrew Kreiling, at third base, the runner was being aware and not falling asleep on us. We ask our players to never be surprised with a ball in the dirt. I don't think he was surprised by it. He did a nice job."
Thomas and junior right fielder Luke Bordewick agreed on Tuesday over Sunday.
"It wasn't as dramatic but I like those games a little bit better, you know, when you come out and play a complete game," Thomas said. "I mean, I think we scored 17 runs, I mean, that's a very productive offense and when your pitching's out there just getting outs, you can't ask for much more."
"I'm feeling good," Bordewick said. "It's always nice to get a win like that heading into a conference series. I'll take a win like this over Sunday any day of the week, it's really good when we can get a lot of run support behind our pitcher."
Cody Ball leads the Gorillas with a .375 average, shares the lead with four home runs and leads with 25 RBI, seven more than the next player, Kyle Dickens.
Foss ranks second in average at .363 and he boosted his average 30 points with back-to-back three-hit games against Washburn and Newman. He was the batter Washburn attempted to intentionally walk in the 13th on Sunday.
McKay has been strong out of the pen, 1.86 ERA and four saves in 10 appearance, stockpiling 19 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings.
Following his two-hit shutout Saturday against Washburn, freshman Cort Lesmeister leads the starters with a 4.13 ERA and his three victories in four decisions place him behind only Thompson's four victories. Thompson's been steadily on the rise in recent outings — standing at 4-3, 4.31 ERA — and Nate Arnold owns a 3-2 mark, 5.29 ERA while hitting .346 with six RBI in various capacities, including designated hitter, catcher and third base.
Pitt State relievers have tossed 13 consecutive scoreless innings. Thirteen's been a lucky number lately for the Gorillas.
Lindenwood enters the weekend series on a four-game losing streak and the Lions dropped five of their last six after winning five straight at home against Missouri Southern and Maryville.
Basically, the 10-17 overall Lions have been 6-3 at the Lou Brock Sports Complex and 4-14 elsewhere. Meanwhile, the Gorillas own a 3-9 away record.
Lindenwood features senior first baseman Mike Failoni, who only broke the MIAA single-season batting average record his junior season, hitting a crisp .500 as he totaled 86 hits, 24 doubles, six homers and 41 RBI.
Through 27 games this season, Failoni possesses a .386 average with four home runs and 22 RBI.
Lindenwood swept a three-game home series against Pitt State last season.