The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Missouri Southern Sports

April 13, 2012

Wheat, Lions deck Emporia State in baseball series opener

Ryan Wheat, bouncing back from his previous outing in stellar fashion, tossed a five-hitter to help Missouri Southern beat Emporia State 8-1 in the first game of an MIAA baseball doubleheader on Friday.

Bob Fornelli’s Hornets recovered, however, to take a 3-0 lead before rain forced suspension of Game 2 at Joe Becker Stadium.

The Lions are batting in the bottom of the fourth inning of the scheduled nine-inning contest. The Lions have runners on first and third with one out.

The game will resume at 11 a.m. today. The scheduled doubleheader will follow.

The Lions hiked their record to 22-15 overall and 15-14 in the MIAA. The Hornets fell to 20-13, 15-10.

Missouri Southern coach Bryce Darnell said that senior left-hander Grant Conrad, who already had worked a scoreless inning in relief, probably will continue on the mound in the suspended game.

Cody Griebling and Ethan Stenger, both senior right-handers, are the scheduled starting pitchers for the Lions in the twinbill.

Said Darnell: “We have to play well in what we assume will be three competitive games. It will be a long day of baseball — probably at least eight hours — and we need to keep our concentration and focus.”

Wheat, a senior right-hander out of Springfield Glendale, rebounded from a 12-5 loss at Washburn last Friday.

“It was my worst outing this season by far,” Wheat said of the loss. “I just didn’t have command of my pitches. Today, I felt like I could throw strikes inside or outside (on the plate).”

Said Darnell: “The last time out for Ryan was very uncharacteristic. He’s been solid all season. He’s a four-pitch pitcher and when he gets the change and breaking ball going (with the curve and fastball) he can throw all of them for strikes.”

Wheat, a 6-foot-2, 185-pounder, struck out two and walked one. He threw 57 of his 88 pitches for strikes in improving to 5-2 and lowering his ERA below 3.00.

The Lions, with the score 1-1, broke through against senior right-hander Derek Brooks, who lost for the first time in six decisions, in the fifth inning with five runs and seven of their 11 hits.

Said Darnell: “We had some good at-bats in that inning. They (the Hornets) didn’t make a play, either, on a ball hit hard on the infield. Thomas Wilson also had a bunt single for the second time in the game during the inning.”

Cullen Baxter started the inning with a single and Wilson legged out a bunt toward first base. Luke Acosta then pulled a double into the left field corner to score Baxter and snap the tie. Michael McCoy followed with a two-run double.

Jesse Kinzey’s two-out single scored McCoy with the fourth run and Dane Kolkmeyer followed with a single. Pinch hitter Jim Gilkerson greeted freshman left-handed reliever Jarrod Miller with a run-scoring double to cap the inning.

The Lions added two runs in the sixth inning. McCoy, facing senior left-hander Zach Dodson, was hit by a pitch. Tee Helsel then walked and Dodson plunked Kinzey to load the bases.

Kolkmeyer greeted right-handed sophomore reliever Dominik Miller with a two-run single.

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