The top-seeded Central Missouri Mules scored seven runs in the final three innings to eliminate Missouri Southern by a 10-5 margin in the MIAA Tournament on Saturday night. The Mules now advance to the MIAA Championship Game for the 17th consecutive season on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. against Emporia State at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.
Central Missouri (45-8) got 4.1 innings out of starter Mitch Stubenhofer, giving up three runs on eight hits to leave with the game tied at three, but a 4.2 inning relief performance out of Alex Kent was the story as he gave up only two hits and a couple runs to get his eighth win of the season. He had six strikeouts and no walks.
The Mules offense pounded out 13 hits, and opened it up in the seventh frame after the Lions (28-26) took a 4-3 lead in the sixth. The Mules used a two-out rally to tie it on a Tyler Ruch RBI single to right, but the fireworks started after that. With Ruch and Frank Specht on second and third after a wild pitch, Jon Wegener hit a slow chopper towards third base and the umpire ruled him safe on a close play at first, and two runs scored. MSSU head coach Bryce Darnell did not agree, and neither did first baseman Shayne Hoke or third baseman Skyler Rawlins. All three were ejected in succession for arguing the call.
A stolen base by Wegener, followed by a walk gave Scott Bradbury a chance for an RBI, and he converted, hitting a single to right to make it 7-4. Bret Schwartz hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth to make it 8-4, before two more sac flies in the ninth after hits by Specht and Ruch gave the Mules a 10-4 lead.
MSSU’s Zach Caldwell hit a solo homer in the bottom of the ninth to cap a 4-of-4 night for the Lions, who had 10 hits in the game. MSSU started two guys that had already started a game in the previous two days of the tournament, including Garrett Groom, who threw a complete game on Thursday.
Specht led the Mules with three hits, while Wegener had three RBI.
Central Missouri must defeat Emporia State two times to claim the MIAA title on Sunday, with the first pitch in game one set for 1:00 p.m. If there is a second contest, it will be played 30 minutes after.