The 23rd-ranked Central Missouri Mules scored five runs in the bottom of the first and made them hold up as they claimed a 6-4 win over Missouri Western in the first round of the MIAA Baseball Tournament Friday afternoon (May 9) at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.
The Mules (39-14) will face the winner of the other first-round game between No. 4 Emporia State and Fort Hays State at 3:30 p.m. Saturday (May 10). The Griffons (25-23) get the ESU/FHSU loser at 11 a.m.
UCM sent 10 batters to the plate in the bottom of the first, after waiting out an hour delay to the game due to the morning rain which came through western Wyandotte County. Only one of the five runs the Mules plated was earned thanks to an error which allowed the leadoff man, junior LF Will Feil, to reach base.
Senior SS Brian McBryde beat out a bunt for a single, then Western senior starting RHP Chris Rusler (3-2) committed the first of two balks in the frame to move the runners to second and third.
After a strikeout by senior RF Blaine Rutledge, senior 3B Iain Dykins singled to the shortstop in the hole and allowed Feil to score. Rusler’s second balk put runner again on second and third, which was followed by an RBI single from senior Balin Bergman to make it 2-0. Junior DH Mike Hallam brought home another run with a sacrifice fly to center to make it 3-0.
Senior 2B Chris Brown singled and senior C Luis Perez walked to reload the bases and set up senior CF Clay Weatherford, who’s single to center brought home two more runs for the Mules.
Western was able to cut the gap to two in the top of the third. A walk to sophomore C Cory Elmendorf and a double by senior CF Troy Landi put two runners in scoring position. After a strikeout by senior 3B Adam Carolan, senior RF Ben Toedebusch grounded out to first and brought home Elmendorf to make it 5-1.
Senior 1B Tommy Bone then singled home Landi to cut the deficit to 5-2, and he went to third when senior DH Brett Bussman singled on a full-count pitch from UCM junior starting RHP Mark Carey (9-1).
With junior LF Adan Mercado at the dish, Carey let loose a wild pitch which allowed Bone to score Western’s third run of the frame.
An RBI-single from Elmendorf in the fourth made it 5-4, but that was as close as Western could get. UCM answered in the bottom half of the inning with a run-scoring single by Bergman, but the Griffons avoided further damage as the Mules left the bases loaded.