Harris's Complete-Game Shutout Lifts Bears to Second Straight Win
Feb. 22, 2014
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Jon Harris turned in a complete-game, five-hit shutout to lift Missouri State to an 11-0 victory over Northern Illinois Saturday afternoon at the Lobo Invite. The Bears (4-1), who logged their fourth double-digit hit total in five games this season, scored six times over their last two at-bats to post their second straight win over the Huskies (0-6).
Harris (1-0) needed just 94 pitches to finish the first nine-inning shutout of his MSU career, fanning four and walking just one NIU batter in a contest that took just two hours and seven minutes to complete. The sophomore right-hander permitted just five singles and only three baserunners after the second inning.
The dominant performance by Harris marked the first complete-game shutout for a Missouri State pitcher since Nick Petree's two-hit blanking of Indiana State on March 29, 2013.
For the second straight day, Eric Cheray (2-for-4) spearheaded a potent MSU offense, which hammered Huskies pitching for 20 hits in a 9-8 victory Friday. Day two of the tournament saw a familiar pattern, as MSU touched up three NIU hurlers for 14 hits, giving the Bears four 13-plus hit efforts in five games. Cheray, who had four hits Friday, scored three times after walking, doubling and lacing an inside-the-park home run into the gap in the seventh inning.
After building a 9-0 lead in Friday's tournament opening win over NIU, the Bears struck early again in game two, putting three runs on the board in the first inning. A lead-off walk to Alex Jefferson got the ball rolling before Spencer Johnson and Conor Smith delivered back-to-back run-scoring doubles to stake MSU to a 2-0 advantage. Despite losing Smith at third for the second out, the Bears kept the pressure on Huskies starting pitcher Jordan Ruckman, as Cheray drew a walk, and Tyler Harris tripled him home to stretch the lead to three runs.
Handed a 3-0 cushion, Harris gave the Bears their second consecutive quality start on the heels of Cody Schumacher's no-hit effort over six frames Friday. After inducing an inning-ending double-play grounder in the first, Harris escaped a second-inning jam with a strikeout and another twin-killing to start a stretch that would see him retire 10 batters in a row.
MSU added to the margin with single tallies in the fourth and sixth innings. Matt Dezort singled with one out in the fourth, stole second and scored on a Joey Hawkins double to center. Cheray started the Bears' sixth-inning rally with a double down the right-field line before Dezort plated the sixth MSU run of the day with a base hit to left-center.
One inning later, Cheray lined a two-out offering into the right-center field gap, then raced all the way around for an inside-the-park two-run home run to stretch the lead to 7-0. MSU broke the game wide open in the eighth, scoring four times to match its season-high for run production. Hawkins's lead-off double set off a string of five straight hits to start the rally, as Jefferson drove in his first run as a Bear with a single to left before Dylan Becker plated two with a double to left, and Johnson capped the scoring with an RBI double of his own.
Harris then retired the side in order in the top of the ninth and wrapped up his ninth career victory by retiring the last eight NIU batters he faced.
In addition to Cheray's big day at the plate, Johnson recorded a 2-for-4, 2 RBI afternoon, while Harris, Dezort and Hawkins also registered two-hit games for MSU.
The Bears take on host New Mexico in the second game of their Saturday doubleheader at 5 p.m. (Central), then conclude the weekend against the Lobos Sunday at 11 a.m.