Bears' Offense Clicks Early and Often in 14-3 Win Over Northwestern State
March 1, 2013
CONWAY, Ark. - Missouri State scored 11 times over the first three innings of its series opener against Northwestern State Friday afternoon before cruising to a 14-3 victory over the Demons at Bear Stadium. Luke Voit recorded four of his career-high five RBIs in the first two innings, as the Bears (6-1) built a 9-0 lead that NSU never seriously threatened.
MSU sent 21 batters to the plate over the first two innings, scoring three times in the opening frame before breaking the game open with six tallies in the second. The Bears pounded out a season-high 15 hits and equaled their largest run total in two seasons to make a winner of Nick Petree (2-0), who surrendered two runs (one earned) on eight hits while striking out five in six innings of work.
With the win, the Bears' 6-1 mark represents their best start to a season since 1999, when they won their first eight games en route to a 38-19 season and an NCAA Regional appearance.
The top four batters in the Bears' order did much of the damage, finishing the day a combined 8-for-14 with seven RBIs and eight runs scored. Voit singled home a run in the first, then belted an opposite-field, three-run homer the following inning to hand the Bears a seven-run advantage. The Bears' senior catcher went 2-for-4 with a run scored, while Dylan Becker scored three times after reaching base in four of his five trips to the plate. Tate Matheny and Keenen Maddox also enjoyed big days at the plate, with each recording a pair of hits and scoring twice in the landslide victory.
Becker got things started for the Bears in the first, drawing a lead-off walk against NSU starter Joey Parrack (0-2), before Matheny singled to right. Maddox drove the first pitch he saw back through the box for a run-scoring single, and Voit followed with an RBI single to left to make it a 2-0 game. Finally, a two-out walk to Eric Cheray with the bases loaded forced home the Bears' third run of the inning.
It was Becker who got the ball rolling again in the second, reaching on an infield single before stealing second and moving over to third on Matheny's base hit up the middle. Maddox plated another run with a double to right-center, and Voit unloaded on a 3-0 pitch for the Bears' first home run of the season to knock Parrack out of the game and stretch the margin to 7-0. Travis McComack singled home MSU's eighth run and came around to score on a throwing error by center-fielder Will Watson to push the margin to nine runs.
After NSU responded with a pair of runs against Petree in the top of the third to make it a 9-2 affair, Conor Smith answered back with his first home run as a Bear -- a mammoth two-run shot off the scoreboard in left -- in the bottom half of the inning.
From that point, both pitching staffs settled in to quiet the offenses over the middle portion of the contest. NSU's Logan Shaftner entered in the fourth and promptly retired all nine batters he faced, and Petree closed out his afternoon with three straight scoreless innings before yielding to the bullpen in the seventh. Freshman left-hander Matt Hall took over from there, striking out four while walking one over two hitless innings of relief in his MSU debut.
The Bears got back into the scoring groove in the seventh, as Becker singled to start yet another rally, moved into scoring position on a Spencer Johnson walk and came home on Matt Dezort's RBI single in his first collegiate at-bat. Voit's sacrifice fly to center drove in Johnson for a 13-2 MSU lead, equaling his five-RBI day from May 24, 2012 vs. Bradley at the MVC Championship.
MSU tacked on a run in the eighth, courtesy of a lead-off triple by Joey Hawkins and a Patrick Drake RBI-grounder. NSU completed the scoring with a single tally in the ninth on Watson's two-out double to left against Sam Perez.
Watson led the way for the Demons, finishing 3-for-5 with a pair of RBIs, and Nathan Lyons added two hits to the NSU attack.
The Bears and Demons will square off for game two of the series Saturday (March 2) evening at 7 p.m.