A sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fifth inning by Emporia State’s David Albritton proved to be the winning run, as a solid starting effort from Hornet ace Ben Graham helped the second-seeded ESU Hornets get past fifth-seeded Missouri Southern, 4-3, in the opening round of the 2010 MIAA Tournament.

The Hornets (40-12) scored three runs on sacrifice flies to come from behind and advance to Friday’s (May 7) 7 pm game against the winner of Thursday’s late contest between Nebraska-Omaha and Fort Hays State. Albritton, the MIAA’s leader in RBI entering the weekend, drove in two runs on sacrifice flies, while leadoff hitter Jeremy Francis added one of his own in the fourth inning.

MSSU (26-25) took the lead in the top of the third on an RBI single by Joe Lincoln, and, after ESU tied it in their half of the inning, pulled ahead again when Patrick Deao deposited the first pitch he saw to the bleachers in left field. That two-run blast put the Lions on top, 3-1, but the Hornets chipped away by getting Francis’ sac fly in the bottom of the fourth, before Travis Whipple tied it in the fifth on a triple to right-center that scored Kenny Burkhead.

Albritton followed with his second sac fly of the day to plate Whittle and put ESU ahead for good.

Graham pitched seven innings of two-earned run baseball for ESU to move to 8-2 on the year, while Killian notched his second save of the season by throwing scoreless eighth and ninth frames. Garrett Groom took the loss for Missouri Southern, dropping to 6-7 overall, in throwing a complete game. Groom tossed eight innings, giving up four runs (all earned) and striking out six.

The Lions will take on Northwest Missouri State at 11 am on Friday morning.