TOPEKA — The bats heated up over the middle innings and sent Gorilla baseball to a series-evening 9-7 against Washburn on Saturday.
After surrendering an early lead, Pittsburg State pushed across four runs in the fifth inning to regain the advantage, 7-4. Washburn cut the lead to one after scoring twice in the bottom of the sixth, but a pair of runs by PSU in the top of the seventh was enough to hold off the Ichabods the rest of the way.
Pitt State (9-16, 3-8 MIAA) went into the fifth trailing 4-3 after scoring twice in the top of the first.
The first three Gorilla batters reached on a walk and consecutive hits to load the bases with no outs.
Hunter Clanin doubled down the left-field line to score Logan Terrell and Dallas Reed, taking a 5-4 lead, with the first out of the inning coming when Colton Pogue was cut down at home after trying to score from first.
With a man on, Pitt State’s Ethan Schlesener launched a home run to left on the very next pitch to give the Gorillas a 7-4 cushion.
Washburn got a pair back on RBI singles from Gabe Franklin and Bowe Behymer in the bottom of the sixth to make the score 7-6.
Schlesener had the answer again the next half inning, driving in Pogue with a single to left to stretch the PSU lead to 8-6.
Jack Mercer added insurance for the Gorillas after scoring Clanin on a fielder’s choice to third later in the inning.
GORILLAS ON THE MOUND
Ethan Vanderpool started the game for PSU and earned the no-decision after giving up four runs on seven hits and seven strikeouts in 2.2 innings of work.
Cooper Garner (4-0) was the second man out of the pen for Pitt State, earning the win after allowing one unearned run on one hit, two walks and a strikeout in 3.0 innings of work.
Cort Lesmeister earned his fourth save of the season after recording the final out with a man on.
ICHABODS ON THE MOUND
Lance Barkley (5-1) started and took the loss after allowing seven earned runs on 10 hits, three walks and four strikeouts in 5.0 innings.
GORILLAS IN THE BOX
It was a top-heavy day for Pitt State’s lineup, as the first five batters combined to go 12-for-21, while the bottom four spots in the order had one hit in 16 at-bats.
Terrell had a pair of hits, including a double, and scored twice out of the leadoff spot, while Reed went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI.
Pogue doubled on one of his two hits, and scored twice in the win.
Clanin went 3-for-4, with a pair of doubles, scored twice and drove in two.
Schlesener had a team-high four RBIs to go along with his two hits and a run scored.
Andrew Vogelbaugh had a hit and an RBI for PSU.
ICHABODS IN THE BOX
Josh Crosby had a 3-for-5 day, scoring twice in the loss.
Brett Nickle and Tanner Triggs each had a pair of hits, with both players combining for three runs and three RBIs.
Pitt State and Washburn play the rubber match at 1 p.m. Sunday.
-- Lucas Davis is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on twitter @LDsportswriter.