Bears Blank Demons to Take Series With 5-0 Victory
March 3, 2013
CONWAY, Ark. - Led by freshman Jonathan Harris's six scoreless innings, four Missouri State pitchers combined to strike out 13 batters in a six-hit, 5-0 shutout of Northwestern State Sunday at Bear Stadium. With the win, the Bears claimed the series with their second win in three games against the Demons and improved to 7-2 on the season.
Harris (2-0) was in control throughout his six innings, scattering five hits and striking out eight without issuing a walk. The right-hander worked his way out of trouble in the second after a two-out error and a base hit put a pair of runners on base, coaxing a grounder to short off the bat of Mitch Huckabay to squash the rally.
Harris preserved a slim lead in the fourth as well, retiring three straight hitters after the Demons (6-6) put their first two batters of the inning on base. The Florissant, Mo., native capped his day by setting down the last six batters he faced before giving way to Erik Shannahan in the seventh.
The MSU bullpen picked up right where Harris left off, as Shannahan, Matt Hall and Tyler Burgess teamed up to allow just one hit while fanning five batters over the final three innings to close out the win.
On the offensive side, Dylan Becker was a central figure in the Bears' first two scoring rallies and finished the day 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI single and a run scored. Tate Matheny also came up big for the MSU offense, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a stolen base, while Patrick Drake recorded two hits - including an RBI double - and scored a run in three trips to the plate.
For the third straight game in the series, the Bears used a strong start to gain the upper hand in the opening inning. Harris set the tone in the top half of the frame, working around a two-out, infield single and a throwing error by striking out the side. Becker kick-started the Bears' offense in the home half, driving a double over the head of left-fielder Cort Brinson. Matheny followed with a bunt single to extend his personal hit streak to seven games, and Keenen Maddox brought home Becker with a sacrifice fly to center for a 1-0 MSU advantage.
Harris and NSU starter A.J. Funk (0-2) engaged in a scoreless duel over the ensuing three innings to keep it a one-run game through four and a half innings. Funk would surrender three runs on seven hits over six innings to suffer the defeat for the Demons.
The Bears' offense followed up the solid work by the MSU pitching staff with a mid-game rally of its own, turning a 1-0 game into a five-run cushion with single tallies in the fifth and sixth innings before two key insurance runs in the seventh. Joey Hawkins provided the initial spark, coming off the Bears' bench to score the second run of the day on Becker's two-out single in the fifth.
MSU struck again in the sixth when Conner Wilson's sac fly to right brought home the third run of the game after Luke Voit singled and Koby Peebles doubled with one out. The Bears got another hit from the red-hot Hawkins to start their two-run rally in the eighth, as Drake's double to left made it a 4-0 game, and Matheny's liner up the middle capped the scoring.
Up next, the Bears travel to Stillwater, Okla., Tuesday (March 5) for a 4 p.m. contest against Oklahoma State.