Bears Fall in 11 Innings at No. 24 Oklahoma State
March 25, 2014
STILLWATER, Okla. - Missouri State came within one out of completing a road victory over No. 24 Oklahoma State Tuesday evening, but Gage Green singled home the tying run in the bottom of the ninth, then won it for the Cowboys with a one-out RBI double in the 11th at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium. The Cowboys (17-8) emerged with the 3-2 victory when Green's gap shot to left-center chased home Craig McConaughy all the way from first after the OSU senior notched his fourth hit of the ballgame to start the deciding rally.
The game-clinching hit off MSU closer Adam Anawalt followed Green's two-out single in the ninth that brought in Aaron Cornell from third with the equalizing run.
Brendan McCurry (4-0) picked up the victory after working three scoreless innings, including strikeouts of the first six MSU hitters he faced after entering the game in the top of the ninth. The right-hander escaped a jam in the top of the 11th when right-fielder Zach Fish gunned down Joey Hawkins at the plate after the MSU junior attempted to score from second on Dylan Becker's one-out hit.
Missouri State led throughout the game, taking advantage of an early OSU miscue to grab a 1-0 lead in the opening frame, then answering the Cowboys' tying run in the fifth with a run of its own in the sixth. But MSU failed to capitalize on several additional scoring opportunities, stranding a total of 13 runners on base while striking out a season-high 14 times against five OSU hurlers.
The Bears caught an early break, as Trey Hair went down swinging at a third strike in the dirt to start the game, but Green's throw sailed over the first baseman's head, allowing the leadoff man to reach second. Becker's fly ball to right moved the runner to third base and a hit batsman put MSU runners on the corners. OSU starter Thomas Hatch recovered to strikeout Eric Cheray, but Matt Fultz lined the first pitch he saw over the shortstop's head into shallow left-center for a run-scoring single.
Bears starter Clay Murphy was sharp early, striking out three of the first five OSU batters of the game and rolling an inning-ending double-play ball in the first. The fifth-year senior ran into trouble with two men out in the second when Fish singled up the middle, and Saulyer Saxon followed with a base hit to left. But Murphy retired Ryan Sluder on a fly to center, then worked around a lead-off hit by McConaughy in the third.
MSU put a pair of men on base in consecutive frames, but failed to extend its lead over Hatch. The OSU freshman stranded his second and third runners in scoring position, getting Fultz on a fly ball to center to end the third before striking out Hair to squash the Bears' fourth-inning threat.
Murphy appeared to have the game under control, registering four consecutive strikeouts while retiring seven straight OSU hitters. But Sluder coaxed a one-out walk in the fifth to stop the streak, and McConaughy delivered his second hit of the night on a perfectly-executed hit-and-run to put runners on the corners. Green's suicide squeeze attempt was thwarted when Murphy tossed to Fultz to nab Sluder at the plate for the second out, momentarily preserving the 1-0 lead.
But Murphy issued his second walk of the night to Tim Arakawa to load the bases, and a wild pitch allowed McConaughy to trot home with the tying tally.
Missouri State responded in the top half of the sixth, as Conor Smith beat out an infield single on a chopper to third, and Spencer Johnson lined a hit through the left side of the infield to start the rally. OSU reliever Alex Hackerott came up with a strikeout on a failed sacrifice attempt, but then chose to attempt to cut down (unsuccessfully) Johnson at second on Hawkins's squibber to the left side of the infield, loading the bases with just one out. A third Cowboys hurler, Vince Wheeland, froze Matt Dezort on a called third strike, but Becker's hard shot to shortstop was just deep enough to give the junior time to beat out the throw to first and bring in pinch runner Trey Massenberg for a 2-1 MSU lead.
Bears junior Tyler Burgess took over for Murphy in the sixth and kept the Cowboys off the board through the eighth with his best performance of the season. The left-hander allowed just one hit--a one-out single by McConaughy in the seventh--to get the game to the ninth inning with MSU's 2-1 lead intact.
Anawalt (0-1) allowed a single to Cornell to start the ninth, but got the next two batters on ground balls to bring the Bears to the brink of their first road win over a ranked opponent since a 12-2 win over Miami in NCAA Regional play on June 2, 2012.
But Green's liner back through the box on a 1-0 pitch from Anawalt wiped the slate clean, and McCurry did the heavy lifting from there until McConaughy--the Cowboys' No. 9 hitter--came through again to start the 11th inning rally. McCurry's three-inning stint capped a big night for the OSU bullpen, which recorded nine strikeouts in 6.0 shutout innings in support of Hatch.
Murphy settled for a no-decision after working a solid 5.0 innings and allowing just one run on five hits while striking out seven Cowboys. Becker led the Bears with two hits in six at-bats, while Johnson went 2-for-3 with a walk.
Up next, the Bears (9-13) return to Hammons Field to begin their longest homestand of the season Wednesday (March 26), when they host Arkansas State in 5:35 p.m. contest.