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Lincoln falls in home opener

The Truman State Bulldogs used a bit of scoreboard symmetry to ruin Wednesday’s home opener for the Lincoln baseball team.

The Bulldogs scored six in the sixth inning and seven in the seventh to win the opening game of the twinbill at Lincoln Field by a 17-10 margin.

Then in the nightcap, the Blue Tigers managed just a single tally in an 8-1 loss.

The Blue Tigers were in the opener for a while, leading 7-4 after five innings.

But several flaws — including three key outfield errors, three balks and a catcher’s interference call — came back to haunt Lincoln.

“This is not a cop-out or whatever, but we just have not done much the last week (due to weather) and it showed,” Lincoln coach Jim Dapkus said.

Each team scored a run in the first inning, Lincoln’s coming when Andrew St. Pierre doubled, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on an error.

The Blue Tigers took a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the third on a two-run homer by Clint Cashen, but gave up three runs in the top of the fourth to fall behind 4-3.

However, Lincoln retook control with two runs in both the fourth and fifth innings. In the fourth, it was a two-run single by St. Pierre that did the damage, while Brad Wright ripped a two-run homer in the fifth.

In the game, Lincoln’s hitters in the 2-5 spots — St. Pierre, Ben Stewart, Cashen and Wright — combined to go 9-for-15 with seven RBI.

“The way everything has been, that’s about the only thing we’ve been able to consistently do lately, is keep them swinging,” Dapkus said. “We have not been able to do a lot of the other things and it came back to bite us.”

It started in the sixth, which began with a hit batter, a balk, a strikeout and the catcher’s interference call. Then came the second outfield error of the game, which allowed two extra runs to score on what should have been just an RBI single.

A three-run homer later in the frame helped stake Truman to a 10-7 lead.

Then came the seventh, as the Bulldogs sent 11 batters to the plate. Lincoln had another outfield error in the frame that allowed a run to score for Truman.

“Our kids know more than anybody how bad the outfield is here and we just cannot let balls get by us,” Dapkus said. “You cannot take the chance of going after a ball, because it’s going to come back to bite you, and it did, three different times for us.”

Lincoln did push across three runs in the bottom of the seventh — on a solo home run by Stewart, an RBI single by Caleb Kemna and a Truman error — but it wasn’t enough.

Wright ended up with three hits and two RBI, while Cashen and St. Pierre had two hits and two RBI each. Stewart had two hits and one RBI and Kemna had one hit and one RBI.

Scott Jones started and took the loss, giving up eight runs (six earned) in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out five and allowed eight hits.

Nathan Lueckenhoff followed, giving up nine earned runs on eight hits in 1 1/3 innings. St. Pierre gave up one hit before getting the final out.

In the day’s second game, Truman took an early lead with a three-run second inning. After two quick outs, a hit batter started the uprising. The Bulldogs later got an RBI double, an RBI single and a hit batter with the bases loaded to account for their runs.

Truman made it 5-0 with a two-run homer in the fifth.

The Blue Tigers finally got on the board in the bottom of the fifth when Cashen rapped a double to drive in St. Pierre.

But that was it for Lincoln, which had just six hits in the contest.

Truman closed out the scoring with three runs in the sixth.

Cameron Moss started and took the loss for Lincoln. He allowed eight earned runs on nine hits with six strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings.

Jacob Busch followed, throwing 1 2/3 innings of hitless ball. Cashen gave up one hit in one inning, striking out two, while Patrick Evans gave up two hits with two strikeouts in the final inning.

The Bulldogs are now 4-12 overall and 4-11 in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association. The Blue Tigers, meanwhile, drop to 2-7 overall and 2-4 in league play.

“They came up with some big hits, their pitchers got out of jams, but we gave them a lot of extra opportunities,” Dapkus said. “And I don’t care who you’re playing, they’re going to take advantage of it sooner or later.”

He added the Blue Tigers, who return to action Saturday and Sunday at Central Oklahoma, looked rusty after playing just their third and fourth games in the last month.

“I told the guys we’ve got to get it off us as soon as possible, because there are no breaks now,” Dapkus said. “We’re going to be playing a lot now and the one thing we don’t want to do is let today affect what’s happening for the next couple weeks. We’ve got to let it go.”

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