RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – The #21 Emporia State baseball had won seven straight elimination games, but could not make it eight as #4 Minnesota State took a 6-3 win over the Hornets in the championship game of the NCAA Division II Central Regional Tournament in Russellville, Ark.
After both sides were retired in order in the first, the Hornets used a single, fielder’s choice and three walks to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second. Toby Cornejo led off with a single and Price Jacobs walked to open the inning, After a fielder’s choice got the lead runner, Wade Hanna and Zack Stucky both walked to force in Jacobs.
Dakota McKaskle was perfect through the first three innings working on one day’s rest. He retired the first nine batters he faced before surrendering a lead off single to Eric Peterson in the fourth. After a sacrifice and a ground out moved Peterson to third, he scored when Nolan Johnson was able to beat out a throw at first from second baseman Levi Parker, who made a diving grab on a ground ball that looked like it was headed to right field. Tournament Most Outstanding Player Stetson Olson homered on the next pitch to give the Mavericks a 3-1 lead.
The Hornets answered with a run in the bottom of the fourth when Hanna singled and stole second. Todd Schultz doubled off the wall in left center to cut the lead to 3-2. The Mavericks got two runs back in the top of the sixth. Parker Sullivan hit an RBI single that Aaron Gile was able to knock down but his throw to reliever Dylan McEwin covering first got away and allowed Taylor Branstad to score an unearned run.
Emporia State cut the lead to 5-3 in the seventh when Dean Long drove in Levi Parker with a single, but Minnesota State answered with an RBI double from Sullivan in the top of the eighth.
The Hornets ended the season 42-19, having won 23 of their last 28 games and advancing to the Regional Final for the first time since winning the regional title in 2009 on the way to a national runner-up finish.
All-Central Regional Tournament Team
C – Jack Goihl, Augustana
1B – Stetson Olson, Minnesota State (MVP)
2B – Ben Agredano, Arkansas-Monticello
3B – Dean Long, Emporia State
SS – Todd Standish, Minnesota State
OF – Zac Johnson, Arkansas Tech
OF – Taylor Branstad, Minnesota State
OF – Parker Sullivan, Minnesota State
DH – Kris Ayers – Arkansas Tech
P – Aaron Johnson, Arkansas Tech
P – Shawn Talkington, Emporia State