The runs came early and often for the Emporia State Hornets on Sunday in their double header against the Blue Tigers of
Lincoln University. ESU defeated Lincoln 14-3 in the first of two games and responded with a 15-3 victory in the second.
The first game for ESU saw six runs in the third inning, opening up a 12-3 lead.
“We knew we had to come out, put up some runs early,” said Centerfielder Dillon Hazlett. “It’s big to get runs early, that way you can just put a team away (in) beating them three games in a row.”
First Baseman Travis Whipple would continue the onslaught for ESU with his lead off home run in the fourth inning. The Hornets added one more run to the score and won handily 14-3.
In the second game of the double header, ESU found ways to score despite being out hit 7-1 through three innings. Aggressiveness in stealing bases kept the game knotted at three runs.
“We want to be aggressive on the bases,” Whipple said. We want to put pressure on them, make them do stuff they’re not comfortable doing. Whenever you can get guys running and movement in the middle you open up gaps, open up holes.”
A lead off home run by Joe Kornbrust followed by a home run by Rudy Weiser sparked what became a five run fourth inning for ESU, a run that cemented their lead for the game.
“People laid back, and we needed a little spark,” said Head Coach Bob Fornelli of the back to back home runs. “At that time, they had seven hits, and we had one hit. Even though the score was three to three, we weren’t producing a whole lot, and I think that got everyone up.”
Hazlett would follow up with a two run home run in the fifth, and Shortstop Andy Cotton’s three-run homerun in the eighth inning would effectively end the game by run rule as ESU held a 15-3 lead.
The Hornets are now 33-4 overall and 29-4 in the MIAA. With the win, they clinch a spot in the upcoming MIAA tournament. ESU is currently ranked first in the conference and prepare for a four game series at second place Central Missouri this weekend.
“We’ve been pretty good on the road so far,” Fornelli said. “But we have our toughest weekend of the year next week. It’s up to us to compete, do the little things. No matter what we do, as long as we compete and play the game the right way, we can go out of there with our heads up.”