EMPORIA, Kan. The Southwest Minnesota State baseball team played two games on Sunday versus two of the top teams in the Central Region, but a pair of eighth inning rallies doomed the Mustangs in close losses.
Emporia State's Wade Hanna belted a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift the Hornets to a 4-2 victory over the Mustangs in Sunday's first game, while Missouri Western's David Chew hit a two-run single in the bottom of the eighth to lead MWSU to a 4-2 victory in the second game.
In the first game, Southwest loaded the bases in the top of the ninth, but Emporia State's Brenton Higgins entered the game and secured the victory with a fly out.
Southwest Minnesota State opened the game's scoring in the top of the first as Jon Ellis connected on a two-run homer to left field.
Emporia State scored a run in the third and added an unearned run in the fifth to tie the game at 2-2.
In the ninth, after the Mustangs loaded the bases, Higgins came into the game for Emporia Stateand closed the victory with a fly out by Jason Minnet.
Ellis led SMSU's six-hit attack with two hits.
Mustang starting pitcher Joe Axelson tied a career-high tossing seven innings, allowed just one earned run on seven hits with six strikeouts and three walks. Travis McGlauflin (0-1) came on in relief in the eighth inning and struck out the first batter he faced, before allowing a walk and the home run by Hanna.
In SMSU's second game, Missouri Western snapped a 2-2 game in the bottom of the eighth on a two-run single by Chew to win the game.
The Mustangs opened the scoring in the third with an RBI double by Ellis. Southwest would score another run on an error by MWSU.
The Griffons came back to tie the score in the fourth inning on a two-run homer by Will Carter.
Starting pitcher James Callahan was impressive in his Mustang debut, allowing two runs on two hits with four strikeouts and two walks in seven innings.
Brayden Olsen took the loss after allowing two runs, one earned, with one strikeout in his collegiate debut.
SMSU was held to four hits in the loss. Kontz had two, while Ellis and Patrick Rients added one each.
Southwest Minnesota State return to action on March 7 with the first of 12 games at the Tucson Invitational. The Mustangs will open its spring trip with games versus Malone (Ohio) and Cal State San Bernardino on March 7.