Bears Score Early and Often to Claim 14-6 Victory Over Southern Illinois
April 13, 2013
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Missouri State scored 10 times in the first five innings to overcome an early two-run deficit en route to a 14-6 victory over Southern Illinois Saturday afternoon at Abe Martin Field. Eric Cheray registered career highs with four hits and three runs scored, and Keenen Maddox went 3-for-5 with a season-high three RBIs to help the Bears survive the Salukis' 16-hit attack and lock up the Missouri Valley Conference series win with their second straight win over SIU.
Freshman starting pitcher Jon Harris settled in after a rocky start to the afternoon to earn his seventh victory in as many collegiate starts, despite allowing as many earned runs (6) and hits (14) as he had over his last three starts combined.
While Harris's performance established a new freshman standard for consecutive wins to start a Missouri State career, it was the Bears' offense that won the day for MSU. After SIU shook Harris for a pair of runs on four hits in the opening inning, the Bears (21-9, 6-2 MVC) erased the deficit with a five-run second, thanks in large part to a shaky Saluki defense that would haunt the home team throughout the afternoon. A throwing error by shortstop Ryan Rosthenhausler on Spencer Johnson's grounder set the tone for the inning, as Joey Hawkins's infield single would plate the Bears' first run of the game moments later following a wild pitch that moved Johnson over to third. Cheray recorded the first of his four singles by beating out an infield hit, and Matheny would draw a walk before a second wild pitch from SIU starter Derek Fogel brought in Hawkins with the tying run.
Maddox kept the rally going by lining a base hit into left that would put the Bears on top when Wes Neece booted the ball, then threw erratically to third to allow both base-runners to advance into scoring position. Koby Peebles followed a walk to Luke Voit with a sacrifice fly to make it a 4-2 game, and Conor Smith singled home Maddox to cap the rally for a three-run MSU lead.
SIU battled back, however, as Austin Montgomery leveled the score at 5-5 with a clutch two-out, three-run homer off Harris in the third. Missouri State would reclaim the lead -- this time for good -- in the third, as Johnson initiated another scoring opportunity by coaxing a lead-off walk from Fogel. Singles by Travis McComack and Cheray would set up Tate Matheny's sacrifice fly to right that gave MSU a 6-5 edge.
Harris would help swing the momentum in the Bears' favor in the fourth after SIU put its first two runners on base via an error and a single. Harris would induce a rally-crushing 5-4-2 double play on a grounder to third by Montgomery, then retire the side on a comebacker to preserve the one-run lead. The right-hander would right the ship by logging four straight shutout innings, allowing the Bears offense time to go to work on widening the margin.
MSU would accomplish that task with a decisive four-run rally in the fifth, started once again by a walk to Johnson. McComack also reached via a base on balls before Cheray delivered another hit, and Matheny's infield hit brought in pinch runner Dylan Becker. Next, Maddox dealt the key blow in the inning by driving a two-run double to right-center before an Anthony Shimkus wild pitch plated Matheny for the 10th MSU run of the day.
Altogether, SIU would commit five defensive miscues leading to six unearned Missouri State runs, including four in the ninth inning that allowed the Bears to erase any doubt about the outcome of the game. Conner Wilson drove in a run with a double down the right-field line, and Becker's two-run double highlighted the inning.
Matt Hall, who relieved Harris in the seventh, closed out the win with 2 2/3 scoreless innings. The freshman yielded two hits and issued a pair of walks while fanning one hitter.
SIU's Matt Murphy (3-2) was tagged with the loss after allowing three runs on three hits in 2 2/3 innings of relief.
Montgomery paced the Saluki's offense with four RBIs in a 2-for-5 day at the plate, while Jake Welch finished 3-for-5 with a walk and a run scored.
The Bears and Salukis will conclude the series Sunday afternoon with a 1 p.m. contest.