Curtis Meyer reporter
It was an up and down weekend for the Gorillas, winning the first two games of the week against Emporia and Central Missouri before dropping the last two games against Central on Saturday. Pitt State is now 28-13 overall and 19-8 in conference play.
Pitt State got on the scoreboard first, with junior Cade Clemons hitting a homer in the second. Junior Jake Grauberger followed that up with an RBI single in the third, while sophomores Austin Warkins and Karson Coffee each hit an RBI to increase the lead for Pitt State.
The Hornets retook the lead in the fifth, scoring four runs to go up 5-4, but the Gorillas answered with a run in the fifth and on in the sixth. Junior Ryan Koval hit a two-run homer in the seventh, giving the Gorillas an 8-5 lead.
The Hornets tied it up again in the eighth inning, scoring 3 runs on one hit, but the Gorillas put it away in the eighth, with Coffee hitting an RBI double and senior Brett Daley hitting a grand slam to make it 13-8 final score.
Following that dramatic finish, it was another close one Friday night, as Pitt State managed to stave off Central Missouri, relying on their pitching.
The Mules got on the board first, with one run homers in both the first and second, but a six run fifth inning by the Gorillas put them ahead 6-2. Warkins was hit by a pitch with bases loaded, allowing Daley to score. Junior Nixon Brannan was then walked, allowing junior Daegan Brady to score.
Coffee then hit a grand slam, burying it as the Gorillas took six runs in the fifth. These would be the only runs of the day for the Gorillas, as the pitching staff held off the Mules through the last four innings. Graduate student Zac Shoemaker pitched for the Gorillas, improving to 8-0 on the year as the Gorillas took the 6-5 win.
“That’s huge. I’ve been in this conference for six years, I’ve been part of some good pitching staff, great teams. For us to kind of put a mark them, the way it was, I haven’t seen someone do that to them and that’s what we need moving forward,” said Shoemaker.
It was a low scoring affair for most of Saturday’s first matchup, with the game tied 1-1 in the fourth after Clemons lone homer, but Centra Missouri broke through in the fifth, scoring three runs. Adding two runs in the seventh and one in the eighth, Central Missouri took a commanding 7-1 lead before Pitt State was able to answer. Despite a late push in the ninth, the Gorillas were unable to catch up with the Mules, losing 9-5 to even the series.
The final game started much like the previous one, with neither team on the board until Central in the fourth with two runs off a fielding error. Pitt State scored their first run of the game in the second but fell behind 3-1 in the fifth.
The Gorillas retook the lead in the sixth, scoring four runs to make it 5-3. This would be the last time the Gorillas were able to score, and the pitching could not bail them out. Central scored three runs in the seventh, taking a 6-5 lead, before adding a run in the eighth for the 7-5 final.
Pitt State will return to action Tuesday, facing the Missouri S & T Miners before returning home to play Newman University.