Posted: Sunday, 24 February 2013 8:28PM

Drury baseball improves to 5-0



Springfield, MO (Drury Athletics)  -- Drury Baseball moved to 5-0 on the season with a doubleheader sweep of Saint Joseph's in the home opener for the Panthers Sunday at Meador Park.

The Panthers, unbeaten under interim head coach Scott Nasby, rallied for a 6-3 win in the opener before claiming a 4-3 victory in the nightcap on a walk-off wild pitch by Saint Joseph's in the bottom of the ninth with the bases full.

The doubleheader was a non-conference series with the Pumas (0-2), though Saint Joseph's, like Drury, is a member of the Great Lakes Valley Conference.

Closer Laurent Zenoni picked up the victory in the opener with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, allowing just one hit and striking out three as the Panthers won it with three runs in the eighth to break a tie.

Caleb Cole walked and later came around to score on Alex Larkin's single before Colton Jones doubled down the left field line to drive in two and give Zenoni and DU some breathing room in the ninth.

Will Landsheft started for the Panthers and gave up two runs in the first to the Pumas before settling down and allowing just five hits and two runs in his seven innings, striking out nine and walking just one.

Jones and Nick Thimesch had two hits each and Brett Neil drove in a pair with a double as part of a three-run fifth that gave the Panthers a 3-2 advantage before SJC tied it with a single run in the eighth.

In the nightcap, newcomer Jonathan McCann - a Missouri State transfer - provided the biggest lift with four innings of two-hit, scoreless relief to pick up the victory, his first as a Panther. McCann, a sophomore right-hander, now has thrown seven shutout innings in his DU debut season, all in relief.

"Our pitchers carried us all day today," Nasby said. "Our hitters needed the help today and everyone on the mound stepped up big. Our pitchers have been minimizing free baserunners, and that has been huge for us."

Saint Joseph's again went on top 2-0 early, plating a pair in the second off DU starter Austin Faulconer, who allowed six hits and three runs (none earned) in his five innings of work.
The Panthers got one back in the third on Matt Borgschulte's RBI single to score Thimesch, and then then moved ahead 3-2 with two runs in the fourth when Jones' double platedScott Chesbro and Thimesch brought Jones home with a single.

Saint Joseph's tied it with an unearned run in the fifth, and scoreless relief work by both bullpens set the stage for DU's walk-off drama in the ninth. Jones reached on an error and later advanced to third on a wild pitch. After the Pumas loaded the bases with walks with one out, Jones trotted home with the game-winner when a Jake Roberts pitch bounced to the backstop.

Thimesch and Larkin had two hits each in DU's 10-hit attack, with Jones scoring twice.

"We need to find some consistency at the plate as we have had way too many strikeouts in three of our five games so far," Nasby said. "Minimizing strikeouts and giving the other team free outs is something we have done well in the past, and we need to shore that up with a very strong Augustana ballclub coming in next week."

While full praise for his team's pitching, Nasby was just as enamored with the Panthers efforts for helping turn Meador Park from a skating rink into playable in a matter of two days after Thursday's snow/ice mixture left any baseball in Springfield this weekend clearly in jeopardy.

"Our guys worked their tails off to get the field ready to play," he said. "Lots of shoveing and scraping for two days, and that was from a lot of guys who are doing what they need to do for us to win even if they know they aren't at the top of the depth chart."

The Panthers will play host to Augustana, S.D., in doubleheaders next Saturday and Sunday at Meador Park.

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