PITTSBURG — The Pittsburg State baseball team swept Fort Hays State in the first conference series of the season, taking both games of the double header 12-2 and 7-3 on Sunday before winning the finale 18-5 on Monday.
GORILLAS TAKE TWO ON SUNDAY
Pitt State hit the ground running in the series opener, notching eight runs in the first three innings en route to the win.
“I thought Cody Whiting was really good on the mound and gave us a chance to extend the lead,” PSU head coach Tom Myers said. “Offensively, I thought we did a good job of applying pressure on them by hitting balls flat. In game two, I thought Andy Pagnozzi had to pitch through a little bit of adversity and did okay, but struggled with walks. However, Cooper Gardner and Cort Lesmeister were really good out of the bullpen. It was nice to see those relievers come in, put up zeroes and give us a chance to win.”
The Gorillas’ offensive surge in the early innings was highlighted by four runs in the second frame — three coming via a trio of RBI singles from Tyson Cushman, Colton Pogue and Andrew Vogelbaugh.
Whiting kept the Tigers off balance at the plate, throwing six shutout innings before giving up a run in the seventh to earn his third win.
Pitt State didn’t get out to a similar start in game two of the doubleheader, but found offensive momentum in the late innings to rally back for the win.
Fort Hays held a 3-1 lead after five innings of play before PSU tied the game with a pair of runs in the sixth on the strength of a single to left-center field by Hunter Clanin.
The Gorillas went on to take the lead in the seventh following a pair of two-run doubles off the bats of Joven Afenir and Josh Whisler.
Afenir finished with a team-high three RBIs on two hits and scored twice.
The win went to Gardner on the mound, who threw four scoreless innings with five strikeouts.
GORILLAS CLOSE OUT SWEEP
Everything was working for the Gorillas in the series finale on Monday, as they earned the sweep with a 13-run victory.
The Gorillas scored all 18 of their runs in the first four innings of the contest, posting four in the first, six in the second, five in the third and three in the fourth.
“Today, we really made them throw strikes,” Myers said. “We took marginal pitches and got ahead in the count. We scored four runs in the first inning, and that’s not easy to do. You have to be patient by taking marginal pitches and forcing them to throw it in the zone. I thought we really did a good job of doing that today. We took pitches, drew walks and hit balls flat.”
The opening innings were highlighted by a pair of home runs by White, which drove in five of the Gorillas’ 18 runs.
For the game, White tallied seven RBI’s on a perfect 3-for-3 outing with three runs scored.
Brendan Stanek earned his second win on the bump, allowing one run on three hits with two strikeouts through three innings of work.
Pitt State will host a three-game set against Lindenwood starting at 2 p.m. on Friday.
— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.