PITTSBURG — Offense was hard to come by for the Pittsburg State baseball team on Friday, as Northwest Missouri mowed down the Gorillas’ lineup en route to taking the first of three games 7-0 at Al Ortolani Field.
While the Gorillas were struggling to get runners on base in their five-hit performance, the Bearcats touched up the Pitt State pitching staff for seven runs on thirteen hits.
“We got our rearends beat,” PSU head coach Tom Myers said. “Ultimately, it came down to two-strike hitting and two-out hitting. All four of their first runs came with came on two-out hits. We made mistakes up in the zone with two strikes and their guy didn’t. Bottom line is that we didn’t adjust and compete well enough.”
Although the PSU starter Cody Whiting was on the hook for the loss, he managed to earn the quality start, allowing four runs earned runs through seven innings.
“I thought defensively, we made a couple mistakes that gave away a run,” Myers said. “And then pitching wise, we just made too many mistakes when we had advantage counts, but we did a better job of commanding the zone early and getting to two strikes. We just have to learn to finish off hitters better.”
Two flyouts to begin the top of the second inning gave the appearance of a quick inning, but a double down the right field line by Jay Hrdlicka kept the Bearcats alive.
After Kevin Handzlik beat on a groundball for an infield single to put runners on the corners, Kolby Greenslade drove a pitch to left field to bring in Hrdlicka from third, before a defensive error allowed Handzlik cross the plate for the second run of the inning.
The Bearcats’ lead swelled to 4-0 in the top of the fourth, following a two-run home run off the bat of Greenslade.
It was a promising start for the Gorillas in the bottom half of the fourth, as Dallas Reed drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a one-out single to left field by Hunter Clanin.
With two runners on and one out, a fly out to right field by Andrew Vogelbaugh allowed Reed to move up to third, but a groundout in the next at-bat left both runners stranded to end the inning.
Logan Rycraft got the Bearcats going in the seventh by belting a double to left field and scoring on a defensive miscue.
Pitt State had another scoring opportunity in the bottom half of the seventh thanks to Vogelbaugh — who hit a one-out double to left-center field — before moving up to third on a single to left field off the bat of T.J. Martin.
The Bearcats’ starter Anthony Caenepeel tight-roped out of danger by recording back-to-back strikeouts.
Northwest added one more insurance run in the ninth to increase the lead to 7-0 on an RBI single by Garrett Fort, but ended up not needing it, as the Gorillas were kept quiet in the bottom half of the frame to end the game.
Vogelbaugh was a bright spot for the Gorillas in the loss, going 2-for-3 with a walk.
Clanin, Colton Pogue and Martin all combined to record the other three hits for Pitt State.
The first pitch of game two between the Bearcats and Gorillas is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday at Al Ortolani Field.
-- Jordan Buckamneer is a sports reporter of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at email@example.com and follow him on twitter @jbuckamneer.