McComack's Ninth-Inning Single Hands Bears Series Sweep of Northwestern
March 10, 2013
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Travis McComack's two-out single in the bottom of the ninth inning plated the winning run in Missouri State's 3-2 victory over Northwestern Sunday, completing a three-game series sweep for the Bears on opening weekend at Hammons Field. Three players recorded three-hit efforts to power a 12-hit attack for MSU (10-3), which improved to 5-1 in one-run contests this season.
With the score even at 2-2 and runners at first and second, McComack bounced an infield single in between first and second base to bring in the deciding run. Koby Peebles - the lead runner -- never slowed down and slid in safely just ahead the throw to the plate to hand the Bears their third straight win.
Peebles, who doubled in each of his final two plate appearances on the day, set the stage for McComack's game-winner with a one-out two-bagger to centerfield. After an intentional walk to Smith, and a Spencer Johnson pop-foul, McComack pulled a 2-2 pitch from NU reliever Kyle Ruchim (0-1) to the right side, pulling the first baseman into the hole to allow himself enough time to reach the bag.
McComack finished the day 3-for-5 with a pair of RBIs, while Conor Smith registered a career-best three hits and scored twice for the Bears, who pulled out the victory despite leaving 15 runners on base. Additionally, birthday boy Joey Hawkins banged out three singles in four trips to the plate to surpass his previous career high for hits in a game.
The walk-off win marked the second time in the series the Bears pull out a victory in their final at-bat against the Wildcats (4-5). Trey Massenberg's 10th-inning hit handed MSU a 2-1 win Friday, before the Bears claimed game two with a 7-5 decision on Saturday.
Erik Shannahan (1-0) earned the win after tossing 2 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Tyler Thompson, surrendering just one hit and a walk. Thompson turned in his best effort as a Bear, allowing two runs on eight hits over 6.2 innings, while striking out a career-high seven batters and walking none.
Missouri State opened the scoring in the second inning, as Smith's first hit of the day, followed by a walk to Johnson and a McComack bunt single loaded the bases with nobody out. Hawkins popped up to short for the first out, but Tate Matheny's check-swing grounder back to the mound pulled NU starter Brandon Magallones just far enough up the first-base line to allow Smith to come home with the game's first run.
Thompson kept the Wildcats at bay with five scoreless innings to start the afternoon, giving up just three hits and fanning five. But Trevor Stevens's lead-off double in the sixth ignited the NU offense, as Ruchim followed with an RBI single to knot the score at 1-1. Two batters later, Jack Havey laced a second NU double up the left-field line to chase home Ruchim for a 2-1 Wildcat advantage.
MSU responded immediately in the home half of the sixth, as Smith once again got the ball rolling for the Bears with a lead-off hit. Johnson's ground ball to second moved Smith into scoring position, and McComack drove him home with a line drive into right-center for his second hit of the game.
Thompson and Shannahan joined forces to work the Bears out of jams in the seventh and eighth innings to keep it even at 2-2. The Wildcats put two runners on base with one out in the sixth before Thompson coaxed a grounder to short. Shannahan then entered the game and retired Ruchim on a pop-up to end the threat. The senior right-hander would find himself in a tight spot the following inning as well after a lead-off walk and a Havey base hit gave NU runners at first and second with nobody out. But Shannahan struck out pinch hitter Scott Heelan, then closed the door on the Wildcats by rolling a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Havey led the Northwestern attack with three hits and an RBI.
Missouri State hits the road for a two-game midweek series with Arkansas State. The Bears and Red Wolves will square off at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday (March 12) and again at 3 p.m. Wednesday (March 13) at Kell Field in Jonesboro, Ark.