ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – Baseball allows you the opportunity to quickly move on after a tough loss. The Northwest Missouri State Bearcats will be happy for Saturday’s game against Missouri Western to start after a 16-3 loss to their rivals Friday afternoon in St. Joseph.
“We didn’t show up today, got off to a bad start and we just didn’t fight our way back in to it,” Bearcats coach Darin Loe said. “Obviously Western took advantage of it as they got momentum early, played with confidence and really took it to us.”
The Griffons scored early and often — starting with Dusty Stroup’s sacrifice fly to center field in the first inning. Northwest starter Max Spitzmiller limited the damage to just one run in the first.
The Bearcats struck out three times in their first four at-bats. Jay Hrdlicka was responsible for Northwest’s first hit of the game, though it took some help from the elements as the right fielder lost the ball in the sun and wind. Western starter Thomas Ruwe ended the inning with a strikeout, giving him four through two innings.
The Griffons started the bottom of the second with a monster home run from Brooks Day. Spitzmiller again limited the damage from there, though he allowed another single and a walk — kept the score at 2-0.
Northwest broke the through for their first run of the game in the top of the third. Derek Hussey reached first on a throwing error by the third baseman. The error and leadoff baserunner were all for not as Hussey was picked off by Ruwe.
Peter Carlson gave the Bearcats their second hit of the game with a single to center field that turned into a two-bagger with another Missouri Western error. Logan Rycraft moved Carlson to third with a fly out to center field. Calvin Rudolph then scored Carlson with an RBI single.
Dusty Stroup reached for the Griffons in the bottom of the third with a leadoff walk. Stroup then stole second and advanced to third on a fly out to center field. The Bearcats had a chance to end the inning with a fly out to left field, but the sun and wind again became a factor as the ball dropped for a double and an RBI. Spitzmiller retired the next batter with another fly ball.
“I thought our pitchers’ velocities were down a little bit today for whatever reason, the breaking ball wasn’t as sharp and it just seemed like everybody was flat today,” Loe said.
Missouri Western is no offensive juggernaut. The Griffons came into the game ranked No. 8 in the MIAA offensively and had scored double-digit runs just four times this season. But they had little trouble scoring on Northwest and that continued in the fourth inning as Western hit two home runs and scored four runs total.
The Bearcats had their best inning offensively in the fifth, scoring two runs on three hits. Carlson doubled to start the inning and then Rudolph reached first after being hit by a pitch. The first run came on a balk by Ruwe, scoring Carlson. The second and final run came off of a single by catcher Alixon Herrera.
The top of the fifth would be the last of the scoring for Northwest but not for Western. The Griffons added one in the fifth and then exploded for eight runs and six hits in the bottom of the sixth. Northwest was unable to manufacture any offense in the seventh, ending the game.
Connor Quick finished the day 2-for-4, keeping him top five in the MIAA in batting average at .395. Carlson was the only other Bearcat with multiple hits in the loss. Spitzmiller pitched just three and two-thirds innings, allowing seven runs and three walks.
Both teams will look to get above .500 on Saturday at 4 p.m.. It was the second-straight loss for Northwest who dropped to 17-17 while Western ended a two-game losing streak to reach 15-15.
“Hopefully that was baseball and we can bounce back tomorrow and have a little more fight in us,” Loe said.