Freshmen Shine in Bears' 5-1 Win Over Indiana State
March 30, 2013
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Missouri State rode another standout pitching performance and a four-run seventh inning rally to upend Indiana State by a 5-1 score Saturday afternoon at Hammons Field. Jonathan Harris limited the Sycamores to one unearned run on four hits over eight innings, and fellow MSU rookie Tate Matheny drove in two runs--including the go-ahead tally in the seventh--to help clinch the series win for the Bears (17-6, 2-0) in their first weekend of Missouri Valley Conference play.
In the first MVC start of his career, Harris followed Nick Petree's two-hit shutout of ISU in game one of the series with a career-long eight-inning effort, over which the freshman right-hander struck out five and scattered four singles to notch his fifth win in as many starts as a Bear.
Matheny went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs to extend his hit streak to 10 games, matching his previous career-best string of consecutive contests with at least one hit. The freshman outfielder plated the Bears' first run of the day with a clutch two-out single in the third inning, then put the Bears on top for good with an RBI single that paved the way to MSU's decisive four-run rally in the seventh.
After Indiana State (11-10, 3-2 MVC) pushed across its lone run of the series to tie the game at 1-1 in the sixth, the Bears regained control of the contest by pounding out four hits and capitalizing on three Sycamore errors in the seventh. Conner Wilson led off the frame with a bunt single, and Travis McComack followed with his second key hit of the day to set the table in MSU's big inning. The Bears benefitted from a throwing error by ISU starter Devin Moore to load the bases on Joey Hawkins's second sacrifice bunt of the contest, before Sycamore reliever Kurt Kudrecki fanned Eric Cheray for the first out of the inning.
But Matheny came through with a line drive through the right side of the infield to bring in pinch runner Matt Dezort, with McComack following him home when the ball eluded the ISU right-fielder for another costly error that handed the Bears a 3-1 lead. Next, Dylan Becker's bouncer to second was mishandled for the third ISU miscue of the inning, and Luke Voit made the visitors pay by driving a two-run single back through the box to stretch MSU's cushion to four runs.
Harris made quick work of the Sycamores in the eighth before handing the ball off to sophomore left-hander Tyler Burgess, who finished off the win by retiring the side in order in the ninth.
The combined efforts of Harris and Burgess extended the Bears string of consecutive innings against ISU without allowing an earned run to 29 straight frames, as ISU's sixth-inning run snapped its scoreless streak against MSU pitching at 25 straight innings dating back to game two of last year's series in Terre Haute.
After strong starts to the game for both pitchers, MSU broke the scoring seal in the bottom of the third, as McComack's lead-off double got the ball rolling against Moore, the reigning MVC Pitcher of the Week. A Hawkins sacrifice moved the runner to third, but Moore got Cheray on fly ball to left for the second out of the inning. Matheny delivered the first of his two key hits, however, driving in McComack with a single to center on Moore's first offering for a 1-0 MSU advantage.
Harris would make the lead stand until the sixth, when Landon Curry's one-out hit opened the door for the Sycamores first scoring rally of the series. Cody Zimmerman followed Curry's single up the middle with a fly ball that Matheny momentarily lost in the sun, then booted for an error to put runners at second and third with just one out. ISU's next hitter, Robby Ort, evened the score with a sacrifice fly to left, but Harris escaped further trouble by striking out Koby Kraemer for the final out of the inning.
In addition to Matheny's two-hit day at the plate, McComack continued his recent offensive resurgence by going 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored to lead the Bears, who matched their season-best win streak with their fourth straight victory. Moore (2-2) suffered the loss for Indiana State, despite allowing just two earned runs on four hits over six-plus innings.
The Bears will take aim at a series sweep when the two clubs wrap up the weekend Sunday at Hammons Field with a 1 p.m. contest.