By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
Ethan Stenger pitched a nine-inning complete game and led Missouri Southern to a 4-2 victory Saturday against Emporia State in the final game of a four-game baseball series at Joe Becker Stadium.
The Lions, who won the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader 3-2, won the series three games to one. Emporia State won a suspended game 9-1 that began Friday night and was completed before the scheduled doubleheader.
Stenger, a 6-foot-5 right-hander from St. Louis, scattered eight hits, walked one and struck out six.
“I just spotted my fastball. I felt like I could put it where I wanted it,” he said. “That set up every at bat. I didn’t need to overthrow or do too much.”
The Lions (24-16, 17-15 MIAA) broke a 2-2 tie with a two-run fifth inning that began with Luke Acosta’s leadoff double. Michael McCoy reached on an infield single and Will Wagner walked before Tee Helsel drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly to center field. McCoy later scored on a throwing error.
Emporia State threatened to score in the top of the eighth inning after pinch hitter Joe Kornbrust reached on an error and was sacrificed to second. But Joe Hosey flied out to center field, and Lions second baseman Luke Acosta made a diving stop to his left and threw out Blake Brisson for the third out.
“I thought that ball was going to get through,” said Acosta, who was 2-for-2 in the first game, reached base four times and scored two runs. “That was a fast runner, too, their leadoff hitter. I threw it as fast as I could.”
The Lions took a 1-0 lead in the third inning on a leadoff double by Thomas Wilson, who was sacrificed to third by Acosta and scored on McCoy’s grounder.
Emporia State tied the score in the fourth on doubles by Ashton McCoy and Joe Vaskas, but the Lions responded with a run in the bottom of the inning on singles by Dane Kolkmeyer and M.J. Sartin and Jim Gilkerson’s sacrifice fly.
The Hornets tied the score again in the top of the fifth on McCoy’s sacrifice fly.
Cody Griebling pitched a seven-inning complete game in the first game of the doubleheader. He allowed six hits, one walk and struck out five.
Emporia State (21-15, 16-12) rallied in the top of the seventh on a leadoff walk and singles by Dorain Williams and Brisson. Eric Dawson drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, and the Lions ended the threat with a force out at second base
“Coach (Jason Immekus) came out and reassured me that I had plenty left and we got a win out of it,” said Griebling, who pitched his seventh complete game in 11 starts. “These next eight games (in the MIAA) are just as important. We need these next eight, too.”
McCoy’s one-out RBI single gave Emporia State a 1-0 lead in the first inning, and the Lions tied the score on a sacrifice fly by Helsel in the bottom of the inning.
Missouri Southern broke the tie with a two-run fifth inning. Acosta singled, was sacrificed to second and scored on Will Wagner’s double. Emporia State’s infield lost Helsel’s popup in the wind, and Kolkmeyer’s single scored Wagner.
“Griebling is just a horse,” said Lions head coach Bryce Darnell. “He’s tough to beat.
“Ethan was throwing as hard at the end as he was at the beginning,” he said. “Coach Immekus talks to those guys about it, and it was great to see.”
ESU led 3-0 when Friday’s game was halted in the fourth inning. Joe Hosey’s three-run home run in the fifth inning gave the Hornets a 6-0 lead, and Emporia added single runs in the sixth, seventh and ninth innings.
The Lions scored in the fifth on singles by Wagner and Cullen Baxter, a walk to Wilson and Acosta’s sacrifice fly.
“It was a really solid day,” Darnell said. “A couple of timely hits and that game would have been different.”