Lions rally in opener and go on to sweep Griffons

St. Joseph, Mo. -- The Missouri Southern Lions rallied from three runs down with five in the seventh to take game one, then completed a critical conference sweep with a 9-4 win in the nightcap.   

The Griffons took a 3-0 lead into the deciding seventh inning as Isaac Rome homered to lead off the fourth and sixth and starter Blake Thomas cruised through the first six innings with no runs allowed on just four hits.

But the Lions broke through in the seventh as Joe Lincoln led off with a homer that was followed by a single from Shayne Hoke and a walk to Michael Zurmehly. 

After Hoke advanced to third on a passed ball, Patrick Deao reached on an error that scored Hoke for the Lions second run of the inning.

Zach Caldwell then doubled home pinch runner Dane Kolkmeyer to tie the score at 3-3.  A bases-loaded walk to CJ Matthews put the Lions on top and an RBI fielders choice groundout by Jacob Taylor put the Lions on top 5-3.  Matthews advanced to third on an error and tried to score but was thrown out at the plate for the second out.  Rawlins scored the Lions' fifth run but Caldwell was also thrown out at the plate trying to score for the third out of the inning.

The Griffons scored an unearned run in the bottom of the seventh and had a chance to win it with the bases loaded and two out.  But Garrett Groom got Zach Kinkeade to strike out looking to preserve the victory.

Groom got the win with a complete game effort and two earned runs allowed and five strikeouts.

The Lions got on the board first in the nightcap as Matthews drew a two-out walk, stole second and came around to score on a single by Taylor.

With Carter Lance blanking the Griffons through five innings, the Lions got some breathing room with a five-run sixth. 

Zurmehly had the big blow of the inning with a two-run homer, his third homer in four games.  Caldwell also plated two runs with a single and then stole second and scored on an RBI single by Matthews. 

The Lions (5-14, 3-9 MIAA) led 8-0 when the Griffons (7-6, 4-6 MIAA) got on the board with three runs in the bottom of the seventh on an RBI single by Ian Atkinson and a two-run double from Billy Waldman.

Lance allowed four runs over 7 1/3 innings and struck out two to pick up the victory. 

The Lions will complete the four-game series at Missouri Western with another doubleheader tomorrow (Mar. 15) at noon.