No. 6 Mules use strong pitching to sweep Lions

Joplin, Mo. -- The No. 6-ranked Central Missouri Mules finished off a four-game sweep of the Missouri Southern Lions with two more victories Sunday afternoon (Feb. 28) at Joe Becker Stadium behind two solid pitching performances.  The Mules blanked the Lions 8-0 in the opener and won the second game 8-3. 

Game one stater Mitch Stubenhofer set the tone with a complete game shutout for the Mules.  Stubenhofer allowed only five hits and struck out five.

Lions' starter Kevin Humphrey was matching Stubenhofer through four innings until leaving the game with an injury after attempting to field a sacrifice bunt.  Humphrey had held the Mules scoreless through four, with only three hits allowed and only one hit that left the infield. 

Humphrey did fine work to get out of a bases-loaded, no outs jam in the third inning.  The Mules loaded the bases after Scott Bradbury singled to lead off the inning, Eric Cole reached on an error and Chance Tuttle was hit by a pitch. 

Humphrey then got Bret Schwartz to strike out swinging and got out of the inning when Nick DeBiasse attempted a bunt but popped out to Skyler Rawlins, who then threw to Humphrey covering third to double off Bradbury.

The Mules had runners on first and second with no outs when Humphrey left in the fifth and gave way to reliever Corey Wells.  It looked as if Wells may get out of the inning unscathed when Tuttle sacrificed the runners to second and third and DeBiasse popped out following a walk to Schwartz.   

But Frank Specht drew a bases-loaded walk that scored the first run that was quickly followed by a grand slam by Tyler Ruch that suddenly put the Mules up 5-0.

The Mules added three more runs in the sixth on an RBI groundout by Cole and run-scoring singles by Tuttle and Schwartz.

It didn't take long for the Mules (9-1, 4-0 MIAA) to jump on the Lions in the nightcap, as they scored three in the first, one in the second and two more in the third for a six-run lead.

The Lions (2-9, 0-4 MIAA) manufactured a run in the bottom of the third as Zach Caldwell led off with a single, stole second and advanced to third on a single by Dane Kolkmeyer.  Caldwell then scored the Lions' first run on a groundout by Jacob Taylor. 

Zak Porath hit a solo homer in the bottom of the fifth and Caldwell again singled and stole second and scored on a sacrifice fly by Kolkmeyer that brought the Lions to within 6-3.

But the Mules quickly added a run in the sixth and one more insurance tally in the eighth inning to pull away for the win.

Carter Lance pitched six innings with seven runs allowed, but only four earned in a losing effort.

Ryan Allen went 5 1/3 innings for the Mules and gave up only two earned runs.  Alex Kent pitched 3 2/3 hitless innings to earn the save.

The Lions will next host Pittsburg State in a doubleheader on Wednesday afternoon (Mar. 3) at 1 p.m.  The games will be part of the ongoing Sonic Trophy Series between the two schools.