Lions top Northwest in first game of MIAA tourney

May 3—The Missouri Southern Lions baseball team rode a seven-run explosion in the fourth inning and pitching that saw Webb City native Cole Gayman pick up his 10th win of the season to a 12-1 run-rule win over the Northwest Missouri State University Bearcats in the first game of the final eight of the MIAA postseason tournament.

The No. 10 Lions, seeded second in the tournament, pushed their season record to 37-13 and 24-9 in the MIAA while the seventh-seeded Bearcats fell to 21-28 and 12-21 in the conference.

"It was a good win. Cole did awesome, he pitched great," Lions coach Bryce Darnell said. "We were able to score early, and it obviously helps to get off to a fast start. Our guys played well."

Southern players got their bats going early in the game when singles by Drew Townsend, Henry Kusiak and Will Doherty loaded the bases with one out.

A ground out by Garrett Rice drove Townsend in for the first run of the game, and then Nate Mieszkowski singled through the left side of the infield to push Kusiak and Doherty across the plate and put the Lions up 3-0 after the first inning.

The Bearcats tried to make a game of it, scoring their only run of the game on a home run to left field in the second inning to make the game 3-1.

"Cole's been great all year, and really, this was no exception," Darnell said. "He made only one bad pitch and Morris hit a home run, but other than that, he was really good."

Both teams were quiet in the third inning before Missouri Southern took over in the fourth inning.

Mieszkowski and Parker singled, and then Drew Davis walked to load the bases with no one out. Catcher Chayton Beck singled up the middle to score Mieszkowski and Parker. Townsend got on base on an error, loading the bases again for Ethan Clark, who cleared the bases with a three-run double, making the score 8-1.

Doherty hit an RBI single, and then Rice hit an RBI single to make the score 10-1 heading into the fifth inning.

In the bottom of the fifth, Parker led off the inning with a home run to right field to make the score 11-1.

"It's been a long time. It felt really good," Parker said after the game. "I wasn't trying to do it, but just to see it leave felt like I got some weight off my shoulders and it got the boys fired up. That was my sixth home run. The wind was blowing in. I knew that was hit really hard, but I didn't know if it was going to leave the park. Then I kind of found the right time to hit it."

The Lions weren't done in the fifth, loading the bases with a walk then getting two batters hit by pitches before Doherty connected on a single for his third hit at four at-bats and his second RBI of the game, making the score 12-1.

The game ended due to the run rule when the Lions held a lead of more than 10 runs at the end of seven innings.

Rice also had a three-hit, two-RBI game and Parker was 2 for 4 on the day with a home run and two runs scored. Mieszkowski went 2 for 3 with two RBIs and a run scored.

Lions pitcher Cole Gayman surrendered one run and two hits in six innings, striking out four batters.

Game 2 of the best-of-three series will be played Saturday at Warren Turner Field at MSSU. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. If necessary, the third game will be played at 1 p.m. Sunday.