Defensive Miscues Prove Costly in Bears' 6-5 Loss at SEMO
March 11, 2014
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - Missouri State saw its losing streak stretch to three games after committing a season-high four errors and watching an early four-run lead evaporate in a 6-5 setback at SEMO Tuesday afternoon at Capaha Park.
Despite out-hitting the Redhawks by an 11-7 margin and building an early 4-0 lead, the Bears could not come up with the key stops they needed on defense or the clutch hits down the stretch to overcome a hot-hitting SEMO squad that posted its fourth consecutive victory.
The home club fought back from the early hole with two-run rallies in the second and third innings before getting home runs from Andy Lack in the fourth and Derek Gibson in the fifth to claim the lead for good. From that point, five SEMO hurlers combined to hold the Bears scoreless, despite MSU putting the tying and/or go-ahead runners on base in four consecutive innings after the Redhawks pulled even.
Lack led the SEMO attack with a 2-for-3 day at the plate that included his first collegiate home run that knotted the score at 5-5 after Tate Matheny put MSU on top with a solo blast to right to lead off the top half of the inning.
Gibson, who went 2-for-4 and scored a pair of runs, then came through with the deciding tally when the senior launched his first long ball of the season over the wall in deep right-center with one out in the fifth.
The Redhawks' (10-6) comeback followed a strong start for the Bears, who entered the game having trailed in every inning over their last two games. After falling behind in the opening inning in each of the previous four games, the Bears broke out the bats early this time, striking for three runs in the first against starter Garret Stockton. Matheny jumped on the second pitch of the game and lined a single to left, and Dylan Becker laced the next offering just inside the right-field line for a run-scoring triple. After Eric Cheray flew out to left for the first out, Spencer Johnson delivered an RBI single to center on a full-count pitch from Stockton to put MSU in front 3-0.
Becker was right in the middle of things the following frame as well, this time driving a two-out double into the gap in left-center to bring in Matt Dezort, who was hit by a pitch, then stole second base.
SEMO went to work on trimming the 4-0 MSU lead in the home half of the second, as Andy Lennington started a string of three consecutive singles with a one-out base hit to left. A perfectly-executed hit-and-run resulted in a Scott Mitchell single to right, putting runners at the corners before Lack's bunt single put the Redhawks on the board. Next, Jason Blum's slow roller to third scooted under the glove of Becker for the junior's first error in 28 defensive chances on the season, allowing Mitchell to come home and make it a 4-2 game.
That would be the first of four critical defensive miscues that would ultimately lead to three unearned runs, as Cheray's wild throw on a bouncer to second opened the door for SEMO to even things up in the third. Gibson followed with a base hit to left that was misplayed by Dezort for a third Bear error in two innings, and Powers balked home a run before Lennington's grounder to third brought in Gibson with the equalizing run.
Matheny's home run--his second of the season--momentarily put the Bears back in the lead, but Lack followed suit in the home half, jumping all over Powers' 1-2 pitch for a no-doubter to left field.
After Gibson's one-out blast the following inning, SEMO reliever Alex Siddle would work out of a two-on, two-out jam in the sixth by getting Johnson to chase a third strike. The following inning, Brady Wright escaped with the lead intact by rolling the first of two consecutive inning-ending double-play balls after Fultz's second straight lead-off hit.
MSU saw its last real scoring threat come up empty in the eighth after a Joey Hawkins single to start the inning. Greg Mosel got Dezort on strikes for the first out, then induced a bouncer to second on a hit-and-run attempt with Matheny at the plate. On a close play at second, Hawkins was not only ruled out, but also to have interfered with the throw to first for yet another twin-killing.
SEMO's Christian Hull--the seventh and final Redhawks pitcher of the day--made quick work of the Bears in the ninth, striking out both Becker and Johnson to wrap up the win for Siddle (1-1) and his second save.
Powers (0-1) suffered the tough-luck loss for MSU after striking out seven SEMO hitters and allowing six runs (three earned) on six hits. Junior reliever Zach Merciez maintained his perfect ERA on the season with 2.0 shutout frames, while Andy Cheray and Sam Perez combined to work a scoreless eighth inning and keep it a one-run game, thanks in part to a 6-3 double-play on a diving stop by Hawkins at short.
Becker led the Bears' offense with three extra-base hits and two RBIs in five at-bats, while Matheny and Fultz added two-hit games.
Up next, the Bears (8-6) return to Hammons Field to open the home portion of the schedule Friday (March 14) with a 3:05 p.m. game against Dallas Baptist. Bears' single-game tickets are priced at $5 for the general public, $2.50 for Missouri State faculty and staff, $2 for students and $4 per adult ($2 for children) for groups of 20 or more for the 2014 season. All children ages 12 and under will require a $2 ticket for admission. Tickets can be obtained through the MSU Athletics Box Office at JQH Arena, by phone at (417) 836-7678.or on game days at Hammons Field.