SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (WFIE) -University of Southern Indiana junior designated hitter Manny Lopez (Santo Domingo, P.R.) hit a three-run blast in the eighth and junior right-hander Jacob Bowles (Mt. Washington, Kentucky) struck out eight to lead the Screaming Eagles to a 5-4 victory over Missouri University of Science & Technology in the first round of the Great Lakes Valley Conference Baseball Tournament Thursday afternoon in Springfield, Missouri. USI, the sixth seed, moves its record to 30-19, while Missouri S&T, the third seed, goes to 30-16.
The victory advances USI to a showdown with the winner of the Maryville University-Bellarmine University game Friday at 4 p.m. During the regular season, USI swept a three-game series from Maryville, which is the second seed in the tournament, and won two of three from Bellarmine, which is the seventh seed in the conference playoff.
USI jumped out in front twice in the early innings with a 1-0 lead in the first on a RBI-single by sophomore leftfielder Aaron Euler (Evansville, Indiana) and 2-1 in the third on a sacrifice fly by Lopez. The Miners responded each time with a tying run in the first and the third.
The score would remain knotted at 2-2 until the eighth when Lopez smacked a three-run bomb over the left center wall to give USI a 5-2 lead. Sophomore centerfielder Bryce Krizan (Mt. Vernon, Indiana) and freshman catcher Lucas McNew (Floyds Knobs, Indiana) singled and walked to lead off the frame, advancing to second and third on a fly out by Euler before Lopez crushed the ball over the fence.
The Miners tried to rally back into the game with two runs in the eighth, but the Eagles closed the door on the 5-4 victory by setting Missouri S&T down in order in the ninth.
Bowles picked up his fifth win of the season in relief, tying for the team-lead in victories with senior right-hander Austin Gossmann (Avon, Indiana) and senior right-hander Austin Krizan (Mt. Vernon, Indiana). He allowed two runs on an eighth inning home run, while tying a career-high with eight strikeouts in 3.2 innings of work.
Austin Krizan started and got the no-decision for the Eagles after allowing two runs on five hits and two walks in 5.1 innings of work. The senior right-hander also struck out seven before giving way to Bowles, who got the Eagles out of a two-on, one-out jam in the sixth.
Courtesy: USI Athletics