Gorillas stage ninth rally to finish off sweep of Lions

Pittsburg, Kan. -- The Missouri Southern Lions lost the nightcap in heartbreaking fashion as the Pittsburg State Gorillas rallied for five in the ninth to defeat the Lions 8-7 and finish off the doubleheader sweep.  The Lions dropped the opener 11-5.

The Lions carried a 7-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth when Zach Potter got the inning started on the wrong foot with a leadoff homer against reliever Tyler Jinks.  Taylor Sibala and Jeremy Graves followed that with consecutive singles that prompted head coach Bryce Darnell to summon Garrett Groom to the hill. 

Rhett Rigby then continued the hit parade with a two-run single that brought the Gorillas to within a run at 7-6.

Groom got within an out of escaping the jam by striking out Chase Barnes and Jason Murphy swinging.   But Luke Zeller reached on an error that plated the game-winning two unearned runs to lift the Gorillas to the dramatic, walk-off victory. 

Joe Lincoln doubled in Jacob Taylor for the game's first run in the first inning before the Gorillas tied it with an unearned tally in the bottom of the inning.

Taylor then untied it with his sixth home run of the season, a two-run shot that gave the Lions a two-run lead in the third.

The Lions led 5-3 when Vince Pironti scored Patrick Deao by smashing his second homer of the season that momentarily gave Southern a four-run cushion in the eighth inning.

Kevin Humphrey got the start for the Lions and worked 5 2/3 innings, with one earned run allowed and three strikeouts. 

Taylor and Zach Caldwell each went 3-of-5 at the plate for the Lions in the opener, with Taylor driving in three runs.

Lincoln also put the Lions on top in the first game with an RBI double that scored Caldwell in the first inning. 

The Gorillas then took total command with a seven-spot in the bottom of the inning.

The first six Gorillas to bat reached base in the inning, with Sibala and Graves leading off with back-to-back homers to begin the onslaught.  Brian Dean then capped the big inning with a grand slam that made it 7-1.

The Lions (11-18, 9-13 MIAA) tried to fight back in the fifth as Lincoln hit his third homer and Michael Zurmehly homered for the seventh time to bring the Lions to within four runs. 

But Jason Murphy answered with a two-run homer in the fifth and the Gorillas (11-14, 10-14 MIAA) tacked on two more runs in the sixth to effectively put the game away.

Lincoln was a perfect 4-of-4 with three RBI in the opener for the Lions.

The Lions will open a four-game series in Kirksville, Mo. against the Truman Bulldogs beginning with a doubleheader on Friday (Apr. 2) at 1 p.m.