By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
Will Wagner’s two-out single in the bottom of the ninth inning drove in the winning run Wednesday as Missouri Southern defeated Northeastern State (Okla.) 5-4 and completed a sweep of an MIAA doubleheader at Joe Becker Stadium.
Wagner, a senior from Texarkana (Ark.) who was 5-for-8 in the two games with four RBI, came to the plate after a two-out walk to Sam Ryan and an infield error.
His ground ball through the right side of infield scored Ryan and emptied Missouri Southern’s dugout as the Lions celebrated.
At first, Wagner tried to elude the swarm.
“Dane Kolkmeyer was running at me with an evil look in his eye, but he’s too fast so he finally caught me,” Wagner said.
“It’s a lot more fun and enjoyable to come to the ballpark when it’s this nice,” he said. “We’ve been hitting lately and starting to play as a team.”
The Lions won the first game 12-2 with the help of home runs by Michael McCoy, Tee Helsel and Wagner. Right fielder Dallas Burke was 3-for-4 with two doubles, including a bases-loaded drive to right-center field in the fifth inning that drove in three runs and gave the Lions a 9-2 lead.
Starter David Reese (3-3) allowed seven hits in a seven-inning complete game. He walked one and struck out four. NSU’s only runs came on designated hitter Cody Begovich’s two-run home run to right field in the fifth inning.
“I left it right over the middle of the plate for him, and he put a good swing on it,” said Reese, who pitched his second complete game in six starts.
“It helps when you’re up by 10 runs, too,” he said. “I thought we competed really well in the second game and came out with the win.”
Missouri Southern (16-10, 12-9 MIAA) has won eight of its last nine games and travels to Northwest Missouri for a doubleheader at 1 p.m. Friday.
The Lions took a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning of Wednesday’s second game when the RiverHawks walked in two runs with the bases loaded. NSU took the lead 3-2 with three runs in the fifth inning, including a two-run single off Lions starter Drew Noble.
Left-hander Payton Walker (3-3) came on in relief at that point and was the winning pitcher. He allowed a run on two hits in 4 2/3 innings. He walked none and struck out two.
“Noble didn’t have his best stuff, but he gave us a chance to win,” said Lions head coach Bryce Darnell. “Payton Walker in the last month has just been outstanding.”
The Lions took a 4-3 lead with two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Sam Ryan’s leadoff home run just to the left of the green background in center field tied the score, a blast that Lions coaches estimated traveled at least 440 feet.
Two batters later, Wagner’s double to left-center field drove in Tee Helsel, who was hit by a pitch, and gave the Lions the lead.
The RiverHawks tied the score in the top of the ninth inning when Kyle Singleton led off with a single, was sacrificed to second, stole third and scored on a ground ball.
In the first game, McCoy ignited a three-run first inning with a leadoff home run to left field. The Lions scored twice in the third inning on back-to-back RBI singles by Kolkmeyer, who was 3-for-4, and McCoy.
The Lions added a run in the fourth inning on an RBI single by Wagner and scored six runs in the fifth inning, highlighted by Burke’s three-run double, Helsel’s two-run home run to left field and Wagner’s solo home run to right field.