Bears Outlast Red Wolves to Take Series Opener in 11 Innings
March 12, 2013
JONESBORO, Ark. - After watching a pair of one-run leads slip away late, Missouri State scored four times with two out in the top of the 11th inning to pull out a 6-2 victory over Arkansas State Tuesday evening at Tomlinson Stadium. Tate Matheny punctuated MSU's decisive rally with a three-run homer after fellow freshman Andy Cheray tossed six shutout innings in his first start as a Bear.
Matheny finished the night 3-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored to lead the Bears' offense. Koby Peebles also turned in a big performance, reaching base in three of his five trips to the plate and scoring a pair of runs--including the game-winner--for Missouri State, which improved to 11-3 on the season.
Peebles got the Bears' deciding rally in the 11th going with a line-drive single to left that scooted through the legs of left-fielder Austin Baker to give MSU a runner at second with nobody out. A wild pitch moved Peebles just 90 feet away from home, but back-to-back strikeouts slowed the Bears' momentum. Travis McComack worked a full count against ASU reliever Levi Shordon, who unleashed a wild pitch on ball four to allow Peebles to trot home with the go-ahead run.
Shordon plunked Joey Hawkins with an 0-2 offering to keep the inning going, and Matheny pulled a Jon Luthe pitch down the left-field line for a three-run homer that turned a one-run lead into a 6-2 cushion.
Missouri State notched its fourth-straight win and its third win in extra innings this season after Arkansas State rallied from one-run deficits in the seventh and 10th innings. The Bears appeared poised to claim the game in the 10th, after Matheny singled with one out and scored on Luke Voit's RBI single to right. A double-play allowed the Red Wolves to escape the inning down by just a run, and the home team would capitalize in the home half of the inning.
Baker doubled to lead off the ASU 10th, but was thrown out at the plate on Claude Johnson's base hit to center for the first out. Johnson, who moved over to second on the throw home, came around on a two-out single by Ryan Emery to even the score at 2-2.
Tyler Burgess (3-1) kept the Bears' hopes alive by freezing Stuart Levy on a called third strike to strand the potential winning run at second. The Bears' sophomore lefty then closed out the victory with a one-two-three 11th inning.
The offensive outburst by the Bears in extra innings came on the heels of strong starting efforts by a pair of freshman hurlers. Both Cheray and ASU's Derek Birginske pitched with the poise of veterans throughout the first half of the contest, yielding just two hits each through five innings. Birginske, in particular cruised through the first four innings, allowing just one MSU hit while fanning six Bears.
The Bears broke the scoring seal in the fifth, however, using a lead-off walk to Peebles and a Spencer Johnson double to left-center to grab a 1-0 lead.
Cheray made the lead stand through six innings, stranding Red Wolves in scoring position in four different innings to preserve the MSU advantage. The left-hander would allow just three hits and a pair of walks before giving way to Grant Gordon in the seventh.
ASU (10-6) went to work right away against the Bears' bullpen, cashing in on an Emery hit to start the seventh when Dustin Jones plated the tying run with a sac fly to right field. Gordon would keep the game even by getting Baker on strikes for the third out of the inning to leave runners at second and third base. Erik Shannahan would come up big the following inning for the Bears, retiring Levy on strikes to strand Johnson at third, squashing yet another potential go-ahead rally.
Emery and Kevin Fitzpatrick paced ASU's attack with two hits apiece.
The Bears and Red Wolves will square off again at 3 p.m. Wednesday (March 13) to conclude their season series.