Bears Hand Guttin 1,000th Career Win With 3-2 Victory Over Northwestern State
March 3, 2012
NATCHITOCHES, La. - Behind a standout performance on the mound from junior Pierce Johnson, the Missouri State Bears nipped Northwestern State, 3-2, Saturday night at Brown-Stroud Field to hand head coach Keith Guttin his 1,000th career victory. Johnson fanned a career-high 12 batters over eight innings to earn his first win of the season and the 1,000th for both Guttin and the Bears as a Division I program.
Guttin, who took over as head coach of the Bears in their first year as a Division I program in 1982, becomes the 46th Division I head coach to reach the 1,000-win milestone and the third bench boss to accomplish the feat while predominantly guiding a Missouri Valley Conference school.
Johnson (1-1) scattered 10 hits in making a three-spot in the Bears' fifth stand. The right-hander allowed single runs in the third and sixth innings, but gained momentum as the game moved into its later stages, striking out the side in his eighth and final inning.
The landmark win would not come easy for the Bears (8-3), however, as Northwestern State took an early lead, then mounted a late threat to even the score after the Bears broke on top. After falling behind the Bears 8-0 in Friday's series opener, the Demons drew first blood in game two, scratching out a run on three hits in the bottom of the third against Johnson. Will Watson led-off the frame with a base hit up the middle before stealing second ahead of a Shaun Hoover single to right. NSU starting pitcher Colin Bear then helped his own cause by lifting a long fly to left, giving Watson more than enough time to trot home with the game's first tally.
Missouri State finally got its offense going in the fifth, getting a pair of key two-out extra-base hits to take a 3-1 lead. Spiker Helms started the rally by lining a one-out single off the glove of shortstop Mitch Huckabay, and Luke Voit kept it going by drawing a two-out walk. Brent Seifert followed with a towering fly that narrowly missed leaving the park, caroming off the leftfield wall instead to chase home both Helms and Voit for his third two-out, two-run double of the series. Brock Chaffin kept the inning going by lining a ball into shallow left-center that ultimately rolled all the way to the warning track when centerfielder Drew Helenihi's diving attempt to stop it came up empty, thus allowing Seifert to come home with MSU's third run.
NSU (2-8) clawed back to within one run in the bottom of the sixth on a two-out RBI single by Watson--his third hit of the contest.
Johnson stranded the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position, however, getting Helenihi looking to end the inning and the Demons' last true scoring threat of the night. After a dominant eighth-inning capped Johnson's night, freshman lefty Tyler Burgess relieved Johnson in the ninth and promptly finished off the Demons for his second career save and the Bears' eighth win in their last nine outings.
Seifert finished the night 2-for-4 with a run scored to go along with his two RBIs, while Helms and Keenen Maddox each added a pair of hits to MSU's 11-hit attack. The Bears and Demons will conclude the series Sunday afternoon with a 1 p.m., contest.