By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
When the Joplin Outlaws broke a 6-6 tie with a run in the bottom of the fifth inning, closer Andrew Schwaab knew he would be called on to pitch in the second game of Sunday night’s doubleheader against the Omaha Diamond Spirit.
Schwaab retired three of the four batters he faced and picked up a save as the Outlaws won 7-6 and split the two MINK League games at Joe Becker Stadium. Omaha won the first game 7-1.
“I knew for sure I was going in then,” Schwaab said after Matt Turner scored on the go-ahead run on a misplayed flyball in left field. “They actually made an error, so that was a break there. That was huge.”
The Outlaws, trailing 6-4, tied the score with two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Center fielder Austin McClain led off with a double down the left-field line, moved to third on Alex Wise’s sacrifice and scored when Koby Chadick lined a double that bounced against the left-field fence. Chadick scored on catcher Max Ayoub’s single to right.
“There was a guy at third base with less than two outs, so I was just trying to get the run in,” said Chadick, who came into the game as the league’s sixth-leading hitter with a .397 average.
“He threw me a 3-2 curveball and I hit it pretty well,” he said. “I was just glad to get the run in.”
Omaha took a 2-0 lead in the first inning against Outlaws starting pitcher Aaron Bedsworth on Eric McGlauflin’s sacrifice fly and an RBI single by Kevin Connolly. The Outlaws tied the score in the bottom of the inning on an RBI grounder by Ayoub, who was 2-for-3 and drove in three runs, and a bases-loaded walk to Turner.
Omaha scored three unearned runs in the third inning, capped by Tyler Silna’s RBI double, then took a 6-4 lead with a run in the fourth inning on a sacrifice fly by Cory Hassel.
“I’m proud of the way the guys bounced back after game one,” said Outlaws head coach Rob Vessell. “Our relievers did a great job of putting up three zeros in the last three innings.”
Zach McKnight, who entered the game at the start of the fifth inning, was the winning pitcher. He allowed two hits, walked none and struck out two. Albert Johnson, who came on in relief for the Diamond Spirit in the bottom of the fifth, took the loss.
The Outlaws (6-8, 4-8 in the league) are scheduled to play Chillicothe in the first of a three-game series at 7 p.m. today at Joe Becker Stadium.
In Sunday’s first game, Omaha starter Stephan Meyer allowed just two baserunners in the first four innings and was the winning pitcher with the help of two relievers. Omaha outhit Joplin 7-3.
Left fielder Kyle Dickens gave the Outlaws a 1-0 lead when he led off the second inning with a home run just to the right of the light standard in left field.
Omaha scored three runs in the third inning on McGlauflin’s sacrifice fly, Jory Goldstrom’s RBI double and an error. The Diamond Spirit added four runs in the sixth inning, aided by two errors and Goldstrom’s two-run single to left.