PITTSBURG — Northwest Missouri State clinched a series win with a 7-2 victory over Pittsburg State Saturday at Al Ortolani Field.
The Bearcats took advantage of five PSU errors and banged out 13 hits on the way to the win.
“[The errors] definitely had an impact on the game,” Pittsburg State head coach Tom Myers said. “Allowing those runners to get into scoring position makes it difficult to pitch, but really, we just didn’t execute pitches when we were ahead in the count to put hitters away. If you keep giving up two-strike, two-out hits, which has been the story for us the last two games, you’re not going to win.”
After Hunter Clanin gave the Gorillas the first lead of the game with an RBI single through the right side to score Chase Kilgore in the bottom of the first, the Bearcats answered with two runs on three hits and an error in the top of the third to take the 2-1 lead.
Ozzie Adams tied the game up at 1-all with a run-scoring single to center.
Following a PSU pitching change, with Coach Myers lifting starter Ethan Vanderpool for Cooper Gardner, Luke Hassman singled to right with one out to score Garrett Fort and give NWMS a one-run lead.
A PSU throwing error followed by a hit-by-pitch prefaced Fort’s single through the right side in the top of the fourth, allowing the Bearcats to push across an unearned run to make the score 3-1.
Northwest Missouri State’s Logan Rycraft singled home Kevin Handzlik in the sixth, which was followed by an RBI double from Fort in the next at-bat to make the score 5-1 in favor of the Bearcats.
Pitt State chipped into the lead in the last of the eighth after Colton Pogue doubled down the left field line to score Dallas Reed, bringing the score to 5-2.
Hassman singled home Adams in the top of the ninth, and the Bearcats added another unearned insurance run after a pickoff attempt at third base kicked high off the dirt and glanced off the Gorilla fielder’s upper chest, allowing the runner to score.
Trailing by five with three outs remaining, the Gorillas sent four straight pinch hitters to the plate, with the latter three reaching base to load the bags with one out.
A PSU strikeout, followed by a flyout to right field ended the threat and the game.
GORILLAS ON THE MOUND
Vanderpool (1-4) went two innings as the starter for PSU, allowing two runs on three hits and one walk.
Gardner pitched four innings and allowed three runs, two earned, on six hits and four strikeouts in relief.
Tripp Tucker and Nick Brown combined to throw two scoreless innings, with Cort Lesmeister giving up two runs, one earned, on three hits in three batters faced.
Blaine Fisher pitched a spotless ninth for the Gorillas.
“We did minimize innings, which was nice,” Myers said when asked about the staff’s work on Saturday. “But, we put ourselves in bad spots because we didn’t execute pitches either early in the count to get ahead of them, or late in the count to put them away.”
GORILLAS AT THE PLATE
Clanin had a pair of hits and an RBI for Pitt State.
Pogue doubled and picked up an RBI, with Kilgore and Reed each scoring once and earning one hit.
Cole Brecheisen and Jake Durossette each got into the hit column for the Gorillas.
“We talked about trying to force the ball above the knees because they were going to dominate the low part of the strike zone,” Myers said. “We needed to make adjustments to flatten those pitches out, and, honestly, we didn’t do a very good job of that.”
BEARCATS ON THE MOUND
Joseph Hietpas (4-1) earned the win as the starter, going 7.1 innings and allowing two runs on six hits, two walks and three strikeouts.
Jacob Wagner struck out one in two-thirds of an inning, while Nikko Pablo pitched a scoreless ninth on one hit and two strikeouts.
BEARCATS AT THE PLATE
Fort and Hassman led NWMS with three hits and two RBIs apiece. Fort scored a run in the win.
Adams and Handzlik each had a pair of hits and scored a run, with Adams picking up an RBI.
Pitt State and Northwest Missouri State wrap up the three-game series with a noon matchup on Sunday at Al Ortolani Field.
-- Lucas Davis is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at email@example.com and follow him on twitter @LDsportswriter.