The Pittsburg State Gorillas received solid pitching from Kyndel Shelburn and Samantha Grove, a defense which committed only a single error over 15 innings and some timely hitting during a doubleheader sweep Saturday afternoon of the Lincoln Blue Tigers, 4-3 and 6-0.
The Blue Tigers left behind 22 runners Saturday, as Shelburn and Grove were able to pitch their way through some troubled waters.
“I thought they both threw really well,” Pitt State head coach Elizabeth Economon said. “We did have some baserunners on, I think Sam gave up a handful of hits but for the most part, they were spread out so they weren’t back-to-back-to-back and she was able to work her way out of some of those jams. We had some good defensive plays as well.
“It would have been nice to have a little bit more of a cushion in the first game for Kyndel. It makes working a little bit easier. Sam had a little better time with a six-run lead. That takes a little pressure off.”
Shelburn crossed the 150-mark in strikeouts (155 this season) and Grove pitched her second career shutout, first since 2011.
Lincoln took a 2-0 lead on a two-run home run by pitcher Clair Lorenz and that lead endured an inning before Pitt State answered with three runs.
No. 9 hitter Riley Campbell led off the third with a solo home run. With one down, Catie Cummins doubled to center. With two outs, Tiffany Brown found a Lorenz pitch much to her liking and she homered to center for a 3-2 lead.
Girard High graduate and Lincoln senior Starr McLeod pinch hit for Jessica Wolken leading off the fifth and singled to left. Wolken reentered for McLeod and later scored the tying run on a Erin Sommerer single to left.
The game remained tied until extra innings.
Economon made a strategical move to start the eighth, bringing in Breanna McCracken to hit for leadoff hitter Brenna George.
“Brenna wasn’t seeing it as well,” Economon said. “I don’t know if it was from the left side or if it was hidden better but the Lincoln pitcher (Clair Lorenz) had some interesting movement. We thought we needed a baserunner so if we could get Bre (Breanna McCracken) to see it better from the right side, she’s been hitting really well in practice this week, that was an easy call. Then, we put the wheels back in for the speed advantage.”
McCracken walked and George reentered at first base. Cummins moved George into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt.
With one down, Kreslee Ketcham hit a fly ball into right field, not anything seemingly out of the ordinary — except the right fielder dropped the ball and George scored the winning run.
Page 2 of 3 - “Those are breaks that we don’t typically catch,” Economon said. “That usually happens to us. We’re taking advantage of some miscues by our opponents so it’s nice.”
Speaking of breaks and miscues, George herself made a two-base error when she dropped a fly ball and Lincoln hitter Kristina Hein missed a homer to left by only a few feet, both plays in the seventh. Lincoln stranded three runners in the eighth.
Pitt State rapped out 12 hits in the nightcap against three pitchers — McLeod, Lorenz and Hein.
“We stress the importance of seeing the ball deep into your body during your at-bat and getting into good hitters’ counts,” Economon said. “I think they took what we worked on this week in practice and really emphasized the importance of letting the ball get deep in the zone and not trying to do too much. I thought we did a good job.”
Brown started the Pitt State second with a double and senior catcher Kayla Sears picked her up with a RBI single. Ketcham, who had four hits on the day, singled home George in the third.
The Gorillas scored four runs in the fifth, three charged to McLeod. Three consecutive singles — Cummins, Ketcham and Brown — drove McLeod from the game. Brown drove in Cummins, while Ketcham and Brown each advanced a base on the throw. With no outs, Lincoln brought in first game starter Lorenz to face Katelyn Birchfield.
Birchfield waited little precious time in driving the first pitch from Lorenz over the wall for a three-run home run and 6-0 Pitt State lead. Birchfield extended her team lead to 38 RBI.
The Gorillas wore limited edition black uniforms on Saturday for a special occasion.
“Today is our skin cancer awareness day because we’re an outdoor sport and it affects more people than anybody knows,” Economon said. “We’re going to try to do it every year to raise awareness. Today, we had free skin screenings from a dermatologist from KU, who came down. . . . Everybody knows about breast cancer but we want to raise awareness for things which may fly under the radar.”
Pitt State improved to 24-20 overall and 12-12 in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association. The Gorillas close out the regular season this week with eight home games (four doubleheaders) against Arkansas Tech (Tuesday), Newman (Wednesday), Southwest Baptist (Friday) and Central Missouri (Saturday).
Pittsburg State 4, Lincoln 3 (8 innings)
LU 020 010 00 — 3 5 2
PSU 003 000 01 — 4 6 1
Clair Lorenz and Shantae Duren. Kyndel Shelburn and Kayla Sears. WP: Shelburn (9-8). LP: Lorenz (9-7). E: Brianna Akers, Duren; Brenna George. 2B: Catie Cummins. HR: Lorenz; Tiffany Brown, Riley Campbell. SH: Amanda Coffeit; Cummins. SB: Devon McCreath. LOB: LU 10, PSU 4.
Pittsburg State 6, Lincoln 0
Page 3 of 3 - LU 000 000 0 — 0 9 1
PSU 011 040 X — 6 12 0
Starr McLeod, Clair Lorenz (5), Kristina Hein (6) and Shantae Duren. Samantha Grove and Kayla Sears. WP: Grove (6-3). LP: McLeod (4-6). E: Joey Bunch. 2B: Tiffany Brown. HR: Katelyn Birchfield. SH: Bunch, Amanda Coffeit. CS: Brenna George. HBP: Sam Kircher. LOB: LU 12, PSU 9.