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Pitt State baseball relishes chance to host Missouri Southern in MIAA Tournament

It’s always a rivalry, but when it’s a postseason matchup, there is a little more intensity.

On Thursday, third-seeded Pittsburg State baseball will play host in the second round of the MIAA Tournament and the Gorillas opponent is a familiar one—the second-seeded Missouri Southern Lions.

“Not only the matchup with Missouri Southern, but the whole weekend (is going to be very competitive),” PSU manager Bob Fornelli said. “You are going to have four of the better teams in the country, at least in the top 35 with Washburn, Central Missouri and Missouri Southern.

Southern is having a great program and having another great year. They have one of the better pitchers (Cole Gayman) in the country going against us. We really respect them, so we are really going to have to step up and play hard.”

The chance to host the conference championship finals round is something Coach Fornelli relishes, but he acknowledges his team still has to show up and ready to perform at its best if they want to take advantage.

“We haven’t played great against the field this weekend,” Fornelli said. “We are 2-7 against the three teams who are here. If we want to win, we are going to have to play better baseball than we have, and we are looking forward to that challenge.”

Heading into the second round of the conference tournament, Missouri Southern has all but clinched its spot in the Central Regional tournament, currently holding down the second seed. 

The Gorillas are eighth in the Central Region standings, so a continued strong showing in the conference tournament would certainly help bolster their resume for a continued path into the postseason.

“There is no doubt we are playing for next weekend,” Fornelli said. “We went 2-0 last week and might drop in the region rankings. We have our work cut out for us. But, playing against teams as good as they are this weekend, if we go out and show well and do good things, I think we will have that opportunity (to play in the regional tournament). If we don’t, we won’t.”

The Championship Finals schedule kicks off with No. 1 Central Missouri taking on No. 5 Washburn at 1 p.m. on Thursday at Al Ortolani Field in Game 1.

No. 2 Missouri Southern and No. 3 Pittsburg State battled at 5 in Game 2.

The winners of each game will play at 11 a.m. on Friday and the losers will play each other at 3 p.m.

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