RUSSELLVILLE, ARK. — The Minnesota State baseball team earned another trip to the D-II College World Series Sunday, downing Emporia State 6-3 in the finals of the Central Region Tournament.
Parker Sullivan smacked two hits and drove in two runs and Josh Matheson turned in a strong middle-relief performance to lead MSU. The Mavericks have now won three straight Central Region titles and are making their fourth trip to the CWS in the last five years.
Stetson Olson aided the MSU effort, belting a two-run homer in the top of the fourth. Nolan Johnson also drove in a run for MSU.
Taylor Nawrocki started for the Mavericks but had control problems early. He was relieved by Matheson after 3.1 innings, having walked six batters and struck out two.
Matheson came in with a man on second and MSU holding a 3-2 lead. He induced a ground out before walking a batter. Matheson then ended the threat by picking the runner off second with a throw to shortstop Todd Standish.
Matheson ended up pitching one-hit ball over his 4.2 inning stint. He allowed one earned run, fanned three and walked two.
“Josh is a guy who was one of our top six starters all season but hadn’t had a chance to pitch in the tournament yet,” MSU head coach Matt Magers said. “Nawrocki started and didn’t have his best stuff and Josh came in and picked him up. He did nice job getting us out of the fourth inning.”
Matt Geislinger pitched a perfect ninth, striking out two of the three batters he faced.
MSU went into the regional with an 0-3 all-time record against Emporia State. The Mavericks ended that skid on Thursday with an 11-5 win against the Hornets, sending them to the losers’ bracket. In Sunday’s rematch, the Mavericks out-hit ESU 7-3.
MSU (45-9) begins play in the College World Series at 1 p.m. Sunday against Seton Hill of Pennsylvania.