The Missouri S&T baseball team played a four game series at Rockhurst on Friday and Saturday, March 30-31. The Miners went 3-1 over the weekend to bring their record above .500 on the season.
Missouri S&T got back on the winning track Friday afternoon, sweeping a Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheader from Rockhurst by scores of 7-3 and 5-4 at Loyola Park.
The wins improved the Miners to 11-12 overall on the season and brought S&T to the .500 mark in the GLVC at 3-3, while Rockhurst dropped to 6-16 and 1-5 in the GLVC.
In the opener, the Miners broke a scoreless tie in the fourth when Lucas Swindle (Weldon Spring, MO/Lutheran-St. Charles) was hit by a pitch to start the inning and later scored on a two-out single by Matt Gruse (Neenah, WI/Neenah).
While S&T starter Dan Borek (Greenville, WI/Hortonville) was keeping the Hawks off the scoreboard, the Miners gave him some more runs to work with in the sixth with a three-run outburst. With one out, Swindle walked and stole second, then crossed the plate on a hit by Matt Knickerbocker (Bayfield, CO/Bayfield).
The Miners scored their other two runs in the sixth with two outs, as Connor Forsythe singled down the line in right to bring home Tim Lira (Granger, IN/Penn) and Drew Aldana (El Paso, TX/JM Hanks)scored Gruse with a hit.
S&T added another tally in the seventh when Swindle drew a two-out walk and scored on a double by Knickerbocker and a subsequent error on the play.
Rockhurst broke the shutout in the opener in the eighth on a run-scoring single by Henry Weiler, then scored again before the inning ended on Corbin Hare's RBI single -- but the Miners got those two runs back in the seventh when Swindle doubled in Aldana and Cameron Burk (Nacogdoches, TX/Cushing)before the Hawks got one in the bottom of the seventh.
Borek picked up the win for S&T, scattering eight hits over seven innings and striking out three.
Rockhurst outhit the Miners 13-10 as Knickerbocker had three of the Miners' 10 hits in the contest.
The Hawks took the initial lead in game two on a two-run single in the first by Alex Van Pelt, but the Miners overcame that deficit to take the lead in the third.
With one out, Tim Lira (Granger, IN/Penn) singled and moved on to third on a hit by Gruse, who took second on the throw. Lira scored when Aldana hit into a fielder's choice, then the Miners would load the bases in front of Justus Nelson (Plymouth, MN/Robbinsdale Armstrong), who delivered a single into left center to drive in two and put S&T into the lead.
S&T would add onto the lead in the sixth when Gruse belted a two-run homer – and that turned into a critical blow as the Hawks got the margin back to one in bottom half of the inning on a two-run double by Tyler Edwards. S&T starter Anthony Garza (Belleviille, IL/Belleville East) got out of the inning by getting pinch-hitter Tommy Kraus on a ground ball to second before turning it over to Matthew Lamb(Doniphan, NE/Grand Island) in the seventh.
Lamb entered the game with the one-run lead and proceeded to strike out the side in order – the last two on called third strikes – to preserve the victory for Garza and get the Miners to the .500 mark in conference play.
Both teams had seven hits in the second game, including three from Gruse and two from Lira.
After taking the first two games on Saturday, the Miners split their doubleheader on Saturday.
Missouri S&T had a pair of six-run innings Saturday -- and the second of those big frames propelled the Miners to a victory in the second game of Saturday's Great Lakes Valley Conference doubleheader with Rockhurst and a split for the afternoon.
The Hawks (7-17, 2-6 GLVC) overcame the Miners' six-run sixth inning in game one with two runs in the bottom half of that inning for a 7-6 win, but the six-run outburst in the fifth inning of the nightcap sent S&T (12-13, 4-4 GLVC) on its way to a 13-8 win and a series victory, as the Miners took three of four in the weekend set at Loyola Park.
Following four scoreless innings in the second game, S&T sent 11 hitters to the plate in its six-run fifth. The inning began with singles by Kaleb Reid (Smithville, MO/Smithville) and Cameron Burk(Nacogdoches, TX/Cushing) before a walk to Lucas Swindle (Weldon Spring, MO/Lutheran-St. Charles) loaded the bases. Matt Knickerbocker (Bayfield, CO/Bayfield) got an infield single to bring home Reid with the initial run of the game, then hits by Tim Kira and Matt Gruse (Neenah, WI/Neenah)also drove in runs and drove Rockhurst starting pitcher Henry Weiler out of the contest.
Connor Forsythe made it 4-0 with a sacrifice fly to plate Knickerbocker, then the Miners got their fifth run of the inning on a throwing error following a fly ball by Drew Aldana (El Paso, TX/JM Hanks), which allowed Lira to score. The sixth run scored after the Miners had batted around on Reid's second hit of the inning that scored Gruse.
Rockhurst cut the lead in half by posting three runs in the fifth, but the Miners got on the board again in the sixth as Lira tripled home Swindle and later scored himself on an infield single by Gruse.
In the seventh, the Miners extended their advantage as Burk first drove in Jason Volkmann (Liberty, MO/Liberty) – who had doubled to open the inning – then a Rockhurst error allowed Kaleb Reid(Smithville, MO/Smithville) to come across. Burk would score before the inning ended on a wild pitch.
The Hawks cut the S&T lead to 11-6 in the seventh, but the Miners tacked on an insurance run in each of the last two innings, scoring in the eighth on a squeeze bunt by Volkmann to score Gruse and in the ninth when Zach Bracken (Berthoud, CO/Berthoud) singled home Burk.
S&T rang up a season-high 19 hits in game two, outhitting the Hawks 19-14, as Gruse had four hits and Reid had three. The beneficiary of the offense was winning pitcher Trent Green (Perryville, MO/Perryville), who picked up his first win as he gave up just three unearned runs in 6 1/3 innings with five strikeouts.
After leaving runners on base in each of the first five innings of game one, the Miners broke through the sixth after loading the bases with nobody out. Following a hit by Knickerbocker and back-to-back walks to Lira and Gruse to prompt a pitching change by the Hawks, Forsythe and Aldana got hits off reliever Brock Collins to score the first two runs of the inning.
With one out, pinch-hitter Justus Nelson (Plymouth, MN/Robbinsdale Armstrong) cut the lead to one with a two-run single that scored Gruse and Forsythe and bring about the second pitching change of the frame. Moments after that, Swindle doubled to score Aldana with the tying run, then when the throw got away, Nelson came across with the go-ahead tally.
However, the Hawks answered back by scoring twice in the bottom of the sixth, taking the lead on Weiler's two-out, two-run double.
Rockhurst built its 5-0 lead in game one by scoring three times in the first and taking advantage of two Miner errors to score twice more in the second against S&T starter Dalton Erger (Imperial, MO/Seckman), who kept the Hawks off the scoreboard over the next three innings.
Swindle and Forsythe had two hits apiece for the Miners, who outhit Rockhurst 10-9 in the first game.
Tuesday's scheduled single game with Fontbonne was postponed, so the Miners' next action will take place next Saturday when they open a four-game series with William Jewell at the S&T Ballpark. Saturday's doubleheader will get underway at noon.