Lions baseball team on the playoff prowl

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Willie Brown/The Chart

Senior Nick Doughty, from Raytown, Mo., slides across home plate during the Sonic Trophy Series Game against Pittsburg State on March 6.

Southern (28-17, 22-15 MIAA) got back into action this week against the Bearcats of Southwest Baptist (19-24, 17-17 MIAA) looking to continue down the path to what they hope will be a home field start to post-season play.  

“It’s definitely a plus. Playing at home gives us an advantage,” said Ryan Bates. “It’s great to see the stands full, knowing we have the support of the city.”

But after a tough opener to the three-game set, the Lions had to rely on day two of the trip to return home satisfied.

Game one saw the Lions squander a 4-2 lead going into the eighth inning, as they allowed the Bearcats to plate three runs and take the lead for good.  

RBIs by Dallas Burke and a homer by Will Wagner put them in good position early on, but in the end the Lions fell in game one by a final of 5-4.

After losing the opener, Southern looked to right the ship and take the final two games of the series, and with brilliant pitching performances by starter Bates, and a near no-hitter by freshman Payton Walker, who won MIAA Pitcher of the Week, that is exactly what they did.

“Ryan Bates has pitched really good for us,” said Coach Nick Tuck, “but we feel like freshman Payton Walker has a chance to be really good.”

The first game of the day saw Bates take the mound where he went the full seven innings, striking out five and only allowing one run to score.  That strong performance was supported by four runs from the Lions offense, with RBIs coming from McCoy, Burke and Helsel.

The second game was one for the Lions’ record books as Payton Walker threw a gem, coming a bad hop single away from a unprecedented no-hitter.  And with the strong pitching performance to keep Southwest Baptist off the scoreboard, the Lions’ offense was able to settle into the box and go off.   

The Lions piled up hits with three different innings where they scored four runs, helped by Sam Ryan, Will Wagner and Nick Doughty who all hit homers in game two.  

They scored first in the fourth inning when Doughty crushed a three-run bomb over the fence in right to extend the lead to 4-0, a lead that would eventually balloon to 12-0 as the Lions smashed a total of 16 hits in the game.

At the end of the third contest of the series, Southern’s team had filled up the stat sheet as  the Lions got production from the top to bottom of the lineup, but Doughty led the way with a total of six RBIs and a long ball on the day.  An strong outing for the senior.

The Lions headed to Pittsburg State on Wednesday for a double header against their rivals.

With just one hit in game one, the Lions fell 5-0, but came back for the 6-4 win in game two.

Three  games until the MIAA Conference Tournament.