Bears' Offense Comes Alive in 8-3 Win Over Illinois State
April 7, 2013
NORMAL, Ill. - Missouri State snapped out of its mid-season offensive slump and freshman Jon Harris improved to 6-0 with a strong 7 2/3 inning effort in the Bears' 8-3 victory over Illinois State Sunday at Duffy Bass Field. Held to three hits in their first two games of the series, the Bears (19-8, 4-2 MVC) responded by pounding out 13 hits to salvage the final game of the Valley set.
Harris scattered five hits and struck out five to win for the sixth time in as many starts as a Bear. The right-hander allowed all three Redbird runs, but held ISU (14-15, 3-3 MVC) in check to give MSU's offense time to click.
Koby Peebles drove in three runs by going 2-for-3 with a pair of walks, and Keenen Maddox finished with hits in his final three at-bats to lead the Bears' hit parade. Tate Matheny added a pair of hits--including his team-leading third home run of the season--and Travis McComack had two hits as well for MSU.
After being held scoreless for 14 straight innings over the previous two games in the series, the Bears needed just one pitch to get on the board Sunday. Matheny jumped all over Brad Sorkin's first offering of the contest, blasting his third home run of the year to left field to give MSU an early advantage. With one out, Luke Voit doubled before moving over to third on a wild pitch and scoring on the first of Peebles's run-scoring singles to make it a 2-0 contest.
After Harris cruised through the first three innings, Illinois State cut into the lead in the fourth, using a Chad Hinshaw triple and a Eric Aguilera sac fly to pull to the Redbirds to within one run.
MSU added to its lead with a single run in the sixth, as Conor Smith reached on a fielder's choice ahead of back-to-back singles by Maddox and McComack. After striking out Joey Hawkins for the second out of the inning, J.D. Learnard issued a bases-loaded walk to force home pinch runner Trey Massenberg for a 3-1 Bears' advantage.
The Bears broke the game open over the ensuing two innings, scoring three runs in the seventh and two more in the eighth to stretch their cushion to 8-1. Another walk with the bases loaded--this time to Conner Wilson--followed by a two-run double by Maddox turned a two-run game into a 6-1 lead for MSU.
Peebles delivered the big blow the following inning, driving in his second and third runs of the day with a one-out single to center after ISU elected to intentionally walk Voit to load the bases.
The Redbirds fought back with two runs of their own in the home half of the eighth, but Matt Hall ended the rally with a strikeout. The freshman lefty recorded the first two outs in the ninth before Erik Shannahan closed out the win after entering with a pair of runners on base.
Sorkin (4-4) suffered the loss for ISU after allowing three runs on seven hits over 5 1/3 innings.
Up next, the Bears will host in-state rival Missouri Tuesday (April 9) in a 6:30 p.m. game at Hammons Field.