Matheny, Harris Carry Bears in 7-5 Win Over Northwestern
March 9, 2013
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Tate Matheny drove in Missouri State's final five runs and clubbed his first collegiate home run to help lift the Bears to a 7-5 victory over Northwestern Saturday afternoon at Hammons Field. The Bears' centerfielder finished the day 2-for-5 to extend his hit streak to 10 games, making a winner of fellow freshman Jon Harris for the third time in as many starts as a Bear.
Matheny delivered in each of his final three plate appearances, lifting the Bears to three-run leads with a sacrifice fly in the third and a two-run homer in the sixth. Finally, with MSU nursing a slim 5-4 lead in the eighth, Matheny came through with a one-out, line drive down the right-field line for a two-run double that would give him a career-high five RBIs and hand Bears all the run support they would need to take their second straight game from the Wildcats (4-4).
Harris (3-0) earned the victory after handcuffing NU for much of the afternoon. The right-hander struck out a career-best 10 batters while surrendering just two runs on six hits and a pair of walks over his six innings of work.
The Bears (9-3) also got a lift from Luke Voit, Conor Smith and Eric Cheray, who turned in multi-hit efforts to pace MSU's 11-hit attack. Voit's 3-for-4 day included a double, while Cheray singled three times and scored a run to snap out of a recent slump. Additionally, Smith scored the Bears' first two runs, finishing the day 2-for-3 with a homer and a walk.
Kyle Ruchim led the NU offense with three hits, and RBI and a run scored in five trips to the plate.
After waiting until the ninth inning to plate their first run in Friday's series opener, the Bears wasted little time in putting the game's first tally on the board in the second game. MSU put its first three hitters on base in the second, thanks to hits from Smith and Cheray and a walk to Spencer Johnson. Joey Hawkins's grounder to short resulted in a double play, but Smith was able to cross the plate to make it a 1-0 game.
Smith struck again two innings later, leading off the fourth against NU starter Luke Farrell (1-1) with a no-doubter that cleared the left-field berm for his second home run of the season and a two-run Missouri State advantage. The Bears kept the pressure on in the fourth, as Johnson drew the second of his three bases-on-balls, and Cheray singled again to set up another scoring chance. Hawkins moved both runners 90 feet with a sacrifice, and Matheny recorded the first of his RBIs with a sac fly to right to push the home team's lead to 3-0.
On the mound, meanwhile, Harris was in control through the first five innings, limiting the Wildcats to three singles and a walk while matching a career high with eight strikeouts. He worked his way out of a first-and-third jam in the first by fanning Jack Mitchell, then struck out the side in the third. The Florissant, Mo., product faced the minimum nine hitters from the third through the fifth innings, but came under fire immediately in the sixth.
Trevor Stevens started a two-run NU rally with a lead-off double, and Ruchim followed with a base it before Harris walked Zach Morton to load the bases. The Bears' right-hander fanned Jack Havey for the first out, but Mitchell skied a pop fly to deep left that fell in for a two-run single that sliced the Bears' lead to one run. Harris avoided further damage in the inning by retiring Walker Moses on a fly to center and striking out for Nick Linne for his 10th punchout of the day.
The Bears went right back on the attack in their half of the sixth, as Cheray's third hit of the ballgame led things. After a Hawkins fly out, Matheny's one-out blast cleared the wall in left-center field for a crucial two-run homer and a 5-2 cushion.
MSU's three-run lead would not last, however, as the Wildcats touched up reliever Grant Gordon for two runs in the top of the seventh to once again pull to within a run. A lead-off walk to Jake Straub and a one-out single by Stevens set the stage, and Gordon's two-out wild pitch came back to haunt the Bears. Morton lined Gordon's 2-2 pitch into right-center to chase home both baserunners and make it a 5-4 game.
But Matheny laced a 1-2 offering from Ethan Bramschreiber into right to chase home Johnson--who walked for the third time on the day--and Hawkins with one out in the eighth to effectively seal the win.
NU pushed across a ninth-inning run against Tyler Burgess, but the sophomore lefty rolled a 6-4-3 double play to end the game and pick up his first save of the season.
Missouri State concludes its series with Northwestern Sunday (March 10) afternoon at 1 p.m.