PITTSBURG — It was a playoff-like atmosphere between Pittsburg State baseball and Missouri Southern State Tuesday at Al Ortolani Field.
With the stands full, the Gorillas used a pair of big innings to claw back and take a back-and-forth 13-7 win over the Lions.
“They are playing against the game of baseball, and not necessarily against the opponent,” Pitt State head coach Tom Myers said. “They are trying to win an inning, and it doesn’t matter how much you’re up or how much you’re down, you do it. They are doing a great job of putting together some really great at-bats, back to back to back, and just keep handing it off to the next guy and letting him do his thing.”
The win for PSU marks the sixth in a row, who move to 18-22, 12-14 in the MIAA and currently the ninth spot in the conference standings. Missouri Southern falls to 21-22, 13-16 in the conference.
“I think we are just starting to figure each other out and willing to let guys do their part,” Myers said. “It is nice to see each guy wanting to step up. They’re just doing a really nice job of playing the game right now.”
Pitt State trailed 4-1 heading into the last of the third before plating five runs on six hits to take a 6-4 advantage.
“We put together some really nice innings offensively,” Myers said. “Even when we didn’t score, we got a couple outs early and found a way to get a double or a single and continue to put pressure on the opposing team.”
Andrew Vogelbaugh got the scoring started in the third with a double down the left-field line to score a pair, bringing PSU within one, 4-3.
T.J. Martin followed with a an RBI double to tie the game, and Ethan Schlesener tripled in the next at-bat to give Pitt State a 5-4 advantage.
Brett Macary wrapped up the inning with a single through the left side to score Schlesener and push Pitt State’s lead to two, 6-4.
Missouri Southern plated three runs in the top of the sixth to tie the game, but the Gorillas responded once again, answering with six runs on seven hits to take a 13-7 advantage.
“Since you’re little, they tell you hitting is contagious and it’s definitely true,” Martin said. “When you watch us play, someone has a tough at-bat and gets a hit. The next guy, double. It’s very contagious when you see a teammate battle up there and get a knock. We have taken on that next-guy-up mentality.”
Hunter Clanin broke the tie with a two-run single to shallow right-center, scoring Dallas Reed and Chase Kilgore.
Vogelbaugh doubled later in the inning to score Colton Pogue and Clanin to push the lead to 10-7.
Martin capped off the inning with a three-run bomb to left field to put the Gorillas on top 13-7.
GORILLAS ON THE MOUND
Cooper Gardner (7-1) earned the win in relief, pitching 2.2 innings without allowing a run to score on three hits, four walks and six strikeouts.
Ethan Vanderpool earned the start and no-decision, allowing two runs on two hits and strikeout in one inning on the mound.
Ty Rowe pitched four innings in relief, allowing two runs on six hits, two walks and three strikeouts in four innings.
Nick Brown and Cody Whiting each pitched two-thirds of an inning in the PSU win.
“The biggest difference between the pitching staff now and a couple of weeks ago when we were struggling, guys aren’t trying to do too much,” Martin said. “They are managing themselves and being efficient with their pitches.”
Pitt State hosts Southwest Baptist for a three-game set, with the opener’s first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at Al Ortolani Field.
-- 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.