Sports, UCM Sports

Mules baseball top Rockhurst and move up in national rankings

Central Missouri baseball is on a seven-game winning streak after their last game of their eight-game on the road. The team now sits at number five in the Division II national rankings.

The Mules had no problem putting up double-digit runs as they totaled a dozen in their 12-4 victory over the Rockhurst Hawks on Tuesday night at Loyola Park. Mules offense tallied a season-high of 22 hits.

It was a great start to the game as the Mules offense put up runs early on the board as outfielder Travis Able was able to bring in the first two runs and give the Mules the lead, 2-0. After just one inning, the Hawks found themselves down 4-0 to the Mules after a two-run homer by Mules infielder Collin Nevil.

On the defensive side, the Mules held their opponents in the last four games to only single-digit runs while averaging at least 10 runs a game, for the fourth game in a row.

Pitcher Luke Lucas got the start on the mound for UCM and was solid all afternoon pitching a complete game. His start to the game forced three consecutive outs in the first inning that pushed the Mules forward with a commanding 4-0 lead.

Rockhurst got its first run in the bottom of the second after a single by Jeremy Lufft and back-to-back UCM errors helping them score. The Hawks then added two runs in the bottom of the third to cut the Mules lead to 5-3.

Central’s final three runs came in the eighth inning. Nevil got on base from a fielder’s choice and advanced to third on a single from Justin Graff-Rowe. After a Rockhurst pitching change, a missed ball help score Nevil and get Graff-Rowe to third.

Lucas ended the game at the mound, only allowing two hits in the last two innings.

With this victory, the Mules finished their road trip 7-1, pushing them to five from the number seven spot in the Division-II national rankings.

Central Missouri now holds a record of 17-3 for the season winning 14 of their last 15 games, with a 9-0 record at home since going 1-2 at the Houston Invitational in neutral games.

Two week ago, the Mules had entered the national rankings at the seventeenth spot before moving up 10 spots in this past week’s rankings. This being a significant turnaround for the Mules whom were in the preseason poll before they falling out entirely and eventually did not receive any votes into week one of the national ranking polls.

The baseball team’s next game will be against the Pittsburg State Gorillas. In their last meeting, the Mules took the series 2-1 after winning in the last game of their three-game series. It was back-and-forth as Pittsburg State gave Central Missouri a hard time splitting wins in the first two games between the two teams.

Pittsburg State is now 15-6 on the season and 7-2 when it comes to MIAA conference play. This will be the first and only meeting between Central Missouri and Pittsburg State of the season, with the Gorillas 3-3 road play.

The three-game series will begin with a doubleheader set for 1 p.m. Saturday, March 17, and a single for 1 p.m. Sunday at Crane Stadium/Tompkins Field.

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