Bears Come From Behind to Finish Sweep of Creighton
March 25, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - The Missouri State Bears rallied from an early three-run deficit to complete a three-game sweep of Creighton with a 5-3 victory Sunday afternoon at Hammons Field. Spiker Helms went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles, a walk and an RBI to lead the Bears' comeback bid, while Clay Murphy held the Bluejays in check with seven solid innings to earn his fourth victory of the season.
After posting back-to-back shutouts of Creighton to begin the series, it only took eight scoreless innings for the Bears to notch their season-best seventh-straight victory Sunday. A three-run Bluejay first put Missouri State in an early hole, but the Bears battled their way back with single tallies in the first and third innings, before flipping the scoreboard for good with a two-run fourth. Three MSU hurlers blanked CU on four hits over the final eight innings, capping a banner week that saw the Bears pitching staff give up just two earned runs over 36 innings.
The three-game sweep gives the Bears their first 3-0 start to a Missouri Valley Conference season since 2009, when they started with five-straight Valley wins en route to claiming the league's regular-season title.
With just nine hits over the first 18 innings of the series, Creighton set the offensive tone early Sunday with three runs on three hits in the top of the first inning. Murphy hit lead-off man Chance Ross with the first pitch of the game, and the situation deteriorated rapidly from there. Brad McKewon laid down a sacrifice bunt, but catcher Luke Voit's throw to first sailed high, allowing both runners to move into scoring position. Murphy recovered momentarily to strike out Nick Judkins, but Anthony Bemboom's base hit to center gave CU a 2-0 lead and halted a 24 1/3 inning scoreless streak for Missouri State pitchers. The Bluejays added another tally to stretch their advantage to three runs, thanks to singles by Erik Mattingly and Alex Staehely.
The Bears began their recovery effort in the home half of the first, cashing in on a Voit double and a Brock Chaffin sacrifice fly, then pulled to within a single run in the third when Eric Cheray led-off with a triple and scored on Helms's single to center.
Missouri State's decisive rally in the fourth began with another lead-off triple, this time by Trey Massenberg. Koby Peebles followed with a walk, and Cheray drove in Massenberg with a sacrifice fly to center to even the score. Helms then doubled for the second time in the game, and Kevin Medrano laid down a squeeze bunt to chase home Peebles with the go-ahead run.
The Bears added to their lead the following inning, taking advantage of a hit batsman, a walk, a Brent Seifert single and a two-out wild pitch that allowed Chaffin to score from third.
Murphy (4-1) and freshman relievers Zach Merciez and Tyler Burgess took care of the rest, holding the Bluejays to two hits after the fourth inning. CU mounted its best scoring chance in the seventh after putting its first two hitters on base, but Murphy fanned Bemboom and Mattingly, then got Mike Gerber on a ground ball to first to get out of the inning. Merciez retired three of the four hitters he faced, and Burgess came on with one out in the ninth to wrap up his fifth save of the season.
In addition to Helms's big day at the plate, Cheray went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored, and both Voit and Seifert totaled two hits for the Bears, who out-hit the Bluejays, 11-7.
Murphy allowed just one earned run and six hits, while striking out seven over his seven innings of work.
Nick Musec (3-1) suffered his first loss of the season after allowing the tying and go-ahead runs to score over 2/3 of an inning.
Missouri State (19-6, 3-0 MVC) is back in action Tuesday (March 27) evening with a 6:30 p.m. non-conference matchup against Kansas at Hammons Field.