Mount St. Joseph entered the weekend holding fourth place in the conference, which is the last seed to make the annual conference tournament. The Lions would have to win a series over the weekend in order to keep pace in the standings.
The Lions would send their ace, Alex Wagner (West Chester, OH / Lakota West) to the mound looking to take game one of the series. Wagner would turn in yet another outstanding outing on the year, working 7 innings of 5-hit baseball and allowing just 2 runs. He would be relieved by Jacob Gunnell (Hamilton, OH / Fairfield), who would pick up the win on the day. Gunnell would work the remaining two innings for MSJ, striking out the side in both innings and giving up no runs.
The Lions would start slow on offense, pushing just one run across the plate before the eighth inning. In the eighth inning Nathan Hunter (Vevay, IN / Switzerland County) would put a double down the right field line with one out. After a fly out to right field, advancing Hunter to third, Zak Farmer (Hamilton, OH / Lakota West) would come up with a line shot to left field to score Hunter and tie the game. The Lions would then string together three more hits after that and take advantage of two miscues by the Defiance defense to win the game by a score of 5-1.
Austin Richey (Cincinnati, OH / CCD) would toe the rubber for the Lions in game two of the series. He would start incredibly hot before Defiance finally got to him in the fifth inning. He would exit the game after working 5.1 innings and giving up 6 runs. Ben Frizzell (Cincinnati, OH / LaSalle) would come on in relief and throw an outstanding game. He would work the remaining 3.2 innings, allowing just two hits and no runs.
Mount St. Joseph would start slow yet again on offense before their big three-run sixth inning. The Lions went into the inning down 6-2 but were able to claw their way back into the game with some gutsy at-bats. The inning started out with a single by Kyle Kittle (Lawrenceburg, IN / Lawrenceburg) and was followed by two more singles, loading the bases with zero outs.
Kyree Hawkins (Smyrna, GA / South Cobb) would plate the first run of the inning on a sac fly to left field. After a bunt that didn't score anybody but moved the second Lion into scoring position, Drew Werner (Sunman, IN / East Central) blasted a two-out triple over the center fielder's head to dead center, scoring two and bringing the Lions to within one. Unfortunately, neither team would score in the remaining three innings and the Lions would drop game two by a score of 6-5.
Zak Farmer would get the ball in game three in a must-win game for the Lions. Farmer would not disappoint. He would pick up the victory on the day, working a miraculous 6 innings, allowing just 3 hits and surrendering only 1 run.
Mount St. Joseph would score all of their runs in the third inning of game three. The inning began with a one-out walk issued to Matt Hofmann (Cincinnati, OH / Elder) who would steal second base. After the Lions made their second out without advancing Hofmann, Roman Rothwell (Monroe, OH / Monroe) singled through the left side of the infield to keep the inning alive.
After Hunter reached on an error on a ball that he smoked down the left field line, the Lions got two huge singles by Simon Schaefer (Cincinnati, OH / St. Xavier) and Ryan McCauley (Canal Winchester, OH / Madison Christian), each scoring a run to push the Lion lead to 3-0. The Yellow Jackets would knock in a run of their own in the top of the fourth inning but that would be the last run scored by either side.
Malik Zuberi (Cincinnati, OH / Lakota West) would work two sensational innings without allowing a baserunner to put the game in the hands of Matt Hofmann. Hofmann would work a quick ninth inning, earning his seventh save of the season and more importantly, keeping MSJ in the hunt for postseason play.
LIONS AT THE PEAK
Zak Farmer earns the award for this weekend's series. Farmer had an incredibly clutch at-bat in game one of the series to tie the game in what would end up being Mount St. Joseph's final trip to the plate. Farmer would follow that up with a 6-inning, 1-run game on the mound in game three to clinch the series for the Lions.
The Lions will travel to Earlham on Tuesday evening to face off with the Quakers in their last weekday conference game of the season. First pitch is scheduled for 4:00 PM.