Bears Battle Back to Claim Series Finale From SIU, 6-5
March 30, 2014
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Missouri State used the long ball to erase a two-run deficit, then relied on a little small ball to pull out a 6-5 victory over Southern Illinois in 10 innings in the rubber match of the two clubs' Missouri Valley Conference series Sunday at Hammons Field.
Tate Matheny's second two-run homer of the afternoon with two out in the bottom of the seventh pulled the Bears (12-14, 3-3 MVC) even with the Salukis at 5-5, before a bases-loaded wild pitch with one out in the home half of the 10th allowed Eric Cheray to trot home with the game and series-clinching run.
MSU pushed across the game winner without the aid of a hit in the decisive rally, as Cheray drew his second walk of the day to lead off the inning, then moved into scoring position on Aaron Meyer's chopper to third. After an intentional pass to Matt Fultz and a call to the SIU bullpen, the Bears pulled off a double-steal to put runners at second and third with just one out.
The Salukis (14-12, 1-2 MVC) elected to issue a second intentional pass to Dylan Becker to load the bases, and Tyler Dray's first offering to Blake Graham bounced in front of the plate and all the way to the backstop to give Cheray more than enough time to score the deciding tally.
The Bears' fourth win in six games was also a product of some solid work from MSU hurlers Jon Harris and Sam Perez, who teamed up to hold the Salukis scoreless over the final five innings. Harris surrendered 10 hits over his 7.0 frames, allowing all five SIU runs--only two of which were earned--while fanning five and walking none. Perez (2-0) picked up his second career win in as many outings this week, tossing 3.0 shutout innings in which he gave up a pair of two-out singles and struck out three Salukis.
Matheny, who batted .500 with three homers and six runs batted-in for the series, finished the day 2-for-4 with a walk and four RBIs thanks to his first multi-homer game as a collegiate player, and the first for a Bear since Keenen Maddox went deep twice against Arkansas State on April 3, 2012. Joey Hawkins also recorded a pair of hits and a walk, while Cheray was 1-for-3 with two bases on balls and a career-best two steals on the day.
The series finale was fitting for a weekend that saw the two teams wage three-consecutive back-and-forth battles, as well as a week in which MSU found itself in three extra-inning affairs. For the second time in the series, the Bears built a first-inning lead, as Matheny crushed his first two-run clout onto the berm in left-center field after Matt Dezort led off with a base hit to right off SIU starter Aaron Hauge.
The lead would be short-lived, as a series of MSU miscues in the top of the second led to three unearned Saluki runs. Ryan Casillas reached on an error to start the rally, before Matt Jones's base hit put runners on the corners against Harris. With one out, Ryan Rosthenhausler's bouncer scooted through the right side of the infield to plate Casillas with the first SIU score of the day, before a wild pitch and a passed ball allowed the tying and go-ahead runs to cross the plate.
SIU added another tally in the third, as Parker Osborne doubled with one out, moved to third on Cody Daily's single and scored on a sac fly from Casillas to make it a 4-2 game.
Missouri State was able to slice into the Saluki lead in the fourth, thanks to a pair of walks from Hauge. Cheray coaxed his first free pass to lead things off, and Becker kept the inning alive by drawing a two-out base on balls. Next, junior transfer Cory Kay took advantage of the scoring opportunity, driving a run-scoring single to left-center for his first RBI as a Bear and pulling the home team to within one run.
But the Salukis countered the Bears' rally with one of their own in the fifth, using a lead-off double from Daily and a run-scoring single from Casillas to reclaim their two-run cushion.
Hauge and reliever Matt Murphy held the Bears at bay until the seventh, when pinch hitter Conner Wilson stoked the Bears' attack with a base hit up the middle, setting the stage for Matheny's game-tying line-drive into the Bears' bullpen in left field.
After Harris finished his day by retiring nine SIU hitters in succession, Perez picked up right where he left off in Wednesday's non-conference win over Arkansas State, in which the sophomore worked 8.1 innings of relief to earn the 5-4 win. This time, the right-hander yielded two-out singles in both the eighth and ninth innings before recording the final outs via a grounder to short and a strikeout, respectively. Perez then retired the side in order in the 10th to set the stage for MSU's first walk-off win of the season.
Kyle Pruemer (1-3) took the loss for Southern Illinois after allowing the go-ahead run on two walks over two-thirds of an inning. Rosthenhausler led the Salukis 12-hit afternoon with a 3-for-4 day at the plate, while Osborne and Daily each produced two-hit games for SIU.
Missouri State wraps up its five-game homestand Tuesday (April 1) at Hammons Field with a 6:35 p.m. non-conference contest against in-state rival Saint Louis, before traveling to Tulsa for a 6:30 p.m. game Wednesday with Oral Roberts.