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Missouri Southern spoils Lincoln's baseball home opener

Sweep Blue Tigers in doubleheader

Lincoln University and Missouri Southern had similar box scores.

But when it came down to timely hitting and limiting free passes, the Lions had an edge.

Missouri Southern scored three runs with two outs and took advantage of six Lincoln walks to earn a 5-3 win in the first game of a Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association doubleheader Saturday afternoon at Blue Tiger Field.

“That’s probably the difference in the game,” Lincoln coach Jim Dapkus said after the Blue Tigers dropped their home opener. “We’re still in that stage of getting used to being on the field and playing some games. We’re playing some quality teams and any little thing we do wrong, it usually comes back to haunt us.”

Ben Stewart’s two-run home run gave the Blue Tigers a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the third, but Missouri Southern had a response.

Lincoln starting pitcher Ryan Simpson issued back-to-back four-pitch walks to lead off the top of the fourth and Missouri Southern followed with a two-run single to tie the game at three.

“We can be a fragile team sometimes offensively, so when we get a lead, the last thing we want is for our pitchers to go out and walk the first guy of the inning to get them an immediate rally started,” Dapkus said.

The Lions took the lead when Mitchell Osbourn tagged Lincoln reliever Gatlin Wiggans with a two-run single with two outs in the sixth and the Blue Tigers came up empty at the plate after that.

Missouri Southern also plated a run with two outs in the top of the third, before Lincoln’s Nick Lovell scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the frame to tie it at one.

“It’s a frustrating loss because we’re a couple of pitches away from getting out of some innings,” Dapkus said. “That’s the way it goes when you play quality teams — they’re just not going to give you a lot.”

Simpson (0-1) allowed three earned runs on four hits, but walked five and struck out one in 3 1/3 innings in his first appearance this season. Gatlin surrendered two earned runs on four hits, struck out two and walked one in 3 2/3 innings.

“Ryan pitched pretty good for the first time out, we’ve just got to get him in the zone a little more,” Dapkus said. “He’s got the stuff to get people out, it’s just a matter of not giving up five extra baserunners. You’re putting a lot of pressure on a team when you do that.

“Gatlin did a good job. We kind of know what we’re going to get out of him.”

Stewart and Zach Roberts both had two hits, while Caleb Davis, Logan Smith, Christian Bunch, and Lovell each added one to lead Lincoln offensively.

Missouri Southern pitcher David Reese allowed two earned runs on eight hits, struck out six and walked one in five innings to pick up his second win of the season.

“He was around the zone and had enough off-speed stuff to keep us off-balanced a little bit,” Dapkus said. “We’re telling our guys that we want to make sure that we’re working counts, but we also don’t want to put ourselves in a situation where we’re down 0-2.”

Lincoln, which had its first eight games cancelled due to inclement weather, will host Missouri Southern for another doubleheader today, starting at 11 a.m.

“It would be nice to be on a consistent pattern of being able to practice on the field,” Dapkus said. “They’re learning on the fly, which isn’t the easiest thing to do when you’re playing quality teams, but that’s what we’re dealing with and we’ve got to just keep fighting through it.

“The best thing for us is to just keep playing some games.”

III

In the nightcap, Lincoln managed just two hits and committed three errors as Missouri Southern came away with a 6-2 win.

Zach Roberts was 1-for-4 at the plate, while James Earlywine was 1-for-2 with an RBI to help lead the Blue Tigers, who fell to 0-4 this season and 0-2 in the MIAA.

Lincoln only allowed three earned runs, but three Blue Tiger pitchers combined to issue nine walks in the nine-inning contest.

Joe Jungmeyer picked up his second loss of the season after allowing two earned runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings of work. The 6-foot-1 righthander struck out two and walked six.

Ian Fuemmeler surrendered one earned run on two hits, while striking out two and walking one in 1 1/3 innings. John Bisges pitched a scoreless seventh inning for the Blue Tigers.

Payton Walker allowed two earned runs on two hits and struck out four in seven innings of work for Missouri Southern (6-0, 2-0).

Evin Natick was 2-for-4 with two RBI to lead the Lions offensively.

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