Gorillas prepare to host Washburn in MIAA tournament opener

Pitt State hosts Washburn for game 1 Friday night.

PITTSBURG, Kan. – The Pittsburg State Gorillas get to play at home in the first round of the MIAA tournament this weekend.

“I love it,” says junior outfielder Blain Ohlmeier, “This is the last go-around, and I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else than right here. We’ve got a great group of guys, and we’re looking forward to getting after it.”

“This is what you talk about in August, to have a chance to get in the conference tournament and see what happens when you get in there,” says head coach Bob Fornelli, “We’re excited about it. First weekend, you just have to find a way to win two games.”

“We’re out of school. I mean, this is our job,” Ohlmeier says on getting to focus on just baseball, “Like coach always says, we’re professional baseball players now.”

The Gorillas are the #4 seed in the tournament, and will host Washburn for a three-game series beginning Friday.

Pitt State was 2-2 against Washburn in the regular season.

“They beat us two out of three here in the second or third week of the year, and played really well,” Fornelli says of the Ichabods, “Everybody is going to play good baseball. This conference is really good, and if you don’t hook up every week, you’re going to be in trouble.”

PSU has won 10 of 13 heading into the postseason.

They’re hoping to carry that momentum to an MIAA tournament title – but first, they need it to carry them past this first series.

“Everybody wants to get to that next weekend and to a regional and everything,” Fornelli says, “We know we have our work cut out for us.”

“It would mean the world to us,” Ohlmeier says of potentially winning a conference tournament championship, “We put in a lot of work in the offseason, and obviously during the season it’s a grind. Forty games is a lot of games. Even though we had ten cut from last year, it’s a grind. We’d love to go get that championship.”

“There’s 8 really good teams. I really believe that,” Fornelli says on the tournament field, “I think anybody this weekend…somebody is not going to show up in Joplin that’s a top-four seed. That’s my belief, I just don’t want it to be us.”

Pitt State will host game one of the series on Friday night. Game two will be on Saturday, with a game three (if necessary) on Sunday.