Bears Blank Wildcats to Stretch Hammons Field Win Streak to Nine Games
April 11, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Despite totaling just two hits against four Kansas State pitchers, the Missouri State Bears took advantage of a pair of critical two-out errors to score three unearned runs and blank the visiting Wildcats, 3-0, Wednesday evening in non-conference action at Hammons Field. Led by Jake Powers's career-high nine-strikeout performance, four Missouri State pitchers combined to post MSU's fifth shutout of the season and run the Bears' home win streak to nine games.
The victory moved the Bears to within one game of the Hammons Field record for consecutive wins. MSU, which last lost at Hammons on March 13 against Purdue, has posted 10-straight home wins on two separate occasions since moving into the facility in 2004, with the most recent streak occurring April 11-May 11, 2008.
Powers (2-0) scattered five hits over six innings and worked out of several jams before handing off to his bullpen. Three MSU relievers--including a pair of freshmen--combined to strike out four more hitters in holding the Wildcats (17-15) in check over the final three frames to lift the Bears (25-10) to their fifth win in six games against a Big 12 opponent in 2012.
The game's pivotal moment came early, as the Bears jumped on top with a pair of runs in the first thanks to a two-out error by KSU second baseman Ross Kivett. Kevin Medrano reached on a one-out walk, moved into scoring position on Brent Seifert's grounder to first and came around with the first tally of the night when Kivett couldn't handle Luke Voit's pop up that landed just inches inside the foul line behind first base. Keenen Maddox made Wildcats starter Jared Moore pay, driving a 1-0 pitch into the left-center field gap to chase home Voit for a 2-0 MSU lead.
Powers, who posted five strikeouts over the first three innings, worked his way into and out of trouble in the top of the fourth, issuing a lead-off walk to Wade Hinkle before allowing back-to-back singles by Blair DeBord and Jon Davis to load the bases. But the sophomore right-hander fanned Matt Giller for the first out of the inning, then retired Mike Kindel on a pop-up to second and Jake Brown on a fly ball to left to preserve the two-run lead.
The Missouri State defense was the culprit in creating a fifth-inning scoring opportunity for K-State, but Powers once again found a way out of a jam. Kivett started the inning with a bouncer to third that Seifert misplayed for an error, and Voit was called for catcher's interference with Tanner Witt on what would have been a routine grounder to second. After a Jared King sacrifice moved both runners into scoring position, Powers came up with a key strikeout of cleanup man Wade Hinkle before getting DeBord on a roller to second.
Powers breezed through the sixth in one-two-three fashion, ending his night with back-to-back punchouts of Giller and Kindel to finish with his second-straight nine-strikeout effort.
Zach Merciez would find himself in hot water in the seventh for MSU following a two-out walk to Witt and a base hit by King. But the freshman induced a grounder to third off the bat of RJ Santigate to keep the Wildcats off the board. KSU's biggest chance to cut into the Missouri State lead came in the eighth when Grant Gordon beaned Davis with one out, then allowed a double to Austin Fisher before yielding to freshman left-hander Tyler Burgess. After walking the first batter he faced, Burgess got Brown to look at a third strike for the final out of the frame.
The Bears tacked on an insurance run in the bottom half of the eighth, once again taking advantage of a two-out error by the Wildcats. One-out walks to Spiker Helms and Medrano gave MSU its first true scoring chance since the first inning, but a fielder's choice ground ball to short resulted in Helms being tagged out at the plate. KSU reliever Johnny Fasola appeared to be in the clear when Seifert bounced to short, only to see the ball carom off the arm of Brown, allowing Medrano to come home with the third MSU run.
Burgess made quick work of the Wildcats in the ninth, giving up only a two-out hit to King before blowing a third strike by Santigate for his third strikeout of the night. With his seventh save, Burgess tied Gordon's Missouri State freshman saves record and moved into a tie for fifth on the Bears' single-season list.
Moore (2-3) was the tough-luck loser for Kansas State, despite allowing just two unearned runs on one hit through three innings.
King led the Wildcats' eight-hit attack with a 3-for-4 night at the plate.
Medrano was the key figure for the Bears at the dish, scoring twice on a pair of walks to go along with his seventh steal of the season.
Up next, the Bears continue a five-game homestand Friday (April 13), when they open a three-game Missouri Valley Conference series against Illinois State at 6:30 p.m.