Pitt State, Missouri Southern prep for rivalry clash in first round of MIAA tournament

The Gorillas host the Lions for a best of three series

After three months and 50 games, it’s time for post season baseball. The MIAA tournament begins this weekend and everyone has something to prove.

“We’re ready to show that we’re one of the most dangerous teams in this conference and we can go as deep as anyone else,” says Missouri Southern outfielder Jordan Fitzpatrick.

Missouri Southern travels to Pittsburg State for the opening round and a best-of-three series.

“Everybody is excited,” says Pittsburg State head coach Bob Fornelli. “You show up in August and you have your first meeting and everybody is looking for this opportunity.”

These two teams are pretty similar. It’s two power hitting offenses, and both will look to their pitching staffs to give them the edge.

“We need to throw strikes, first of all, and we need to get some big outs from our bullpen. Hopefully, we’ve prepared our guys for that,” says Missouri Southern head coach Bryce Darnell. “They’re a really good offensive club. I feel like the winner of the series will be the team that can get the most out of their bullpen.”

“We really haven’t hit a bunch of home runs as of late, so we’ve kind of changed a little bit,” Fornelli says. “We’ve moved the baseball around a little bit and have been able to steal some bases lately, but they have a lot of juice in that lineup, so we’re going to have to pitch really well and we’re going to have to do all the little things really well to have a chance to win.”

Pitt state won the regular season series in February two games to one. Two months later, the matchup looks different.

“We know that we can catch fire whenever we feel good,” Fitzpatrick says. “I don’t think there’s a single guy on our offense that lacks any confidence at all. We’re always ready to go and we’re all ready to swing the bat.”

“Hopefully Tommy will be in there for all three games which adds a little dynamic to our offense that maybe we’ve lacked at times,” Darnell says. “He has a chance to hit the ball up against the fence or out of the park which not everybody does. We’ve got to limit our strikeouts and put pressure on them and score when we have a chance to do so because we know offensively they’re going to be hard to hold down as well.”

The Gorillas have won 6 of their last 7 games and it’s earned them home field advantage.

“We’re playing great team ball. It’s not 1-3 in the lineup it’s 1-9,” says Pittsburg State infielder Austin Bonnel. “Then it’s the guys out of the pen and it’s our starters doing a really good job of giving us a chance to win the game at the end of the game.”

First pitch for game one of the series is set for 6pm Friday night.