Bears Take Two From Redbirds to Open Key MVC Series
April 14, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Missouri State relied on a relentless offensive attack to take the first two games of its Missouri Valley Conference series with Illinois State Saturday afternoon at Hammons Field. The Bears scored seven times over the final three innings to complete a 14-4 run-rule victory over in the series opener that was suspended after 5 1/3 innings Friday due to inclement weather, then bested the Redbirds by a 10-4 in the second contest to guarantee the series win.
The two victories not only gave the Bears (27-10, 6-2 MVC) the series, but also their 10th and 11th straight wins at Hammons Field, marking MSU's longest home win streak since moving into the facility in 2004.
In the opener, the Bears racked up 20 hits--their highest single-game hit total in three years--and picked up right where they left off before the game was suspended in the sixth inning Friday evening. The Bears, who built an early 7-0 lead, jumped on the Redbirds (20-12, 2-6 MVC) again Saturday with two runs in the sixth, a single tally in the seventh and four more to close out the victory in the eighth. Every Bear in the lineup registered at least two hits, as MSU reached the 20-hit plateau for the first time since March 18, 2009 against SEMO.
Missouri State relied on the familiar formula of solid starting pitching to gain the upper hand Friday, as Nick Petree scattered four hits and three walks while striking out five Redbirds over 5 1/3 innings to win for the seventh time in eight starts.
The Bears grabbed control of the game with a five-run second inning, striking for four straight hits against ISU starter Chris Razo. Keenen Maddox got the ball rolling with a lead-off single to right, and Trey Massenberg reached base on a walk before Brock Chaffin moved both runners over with a sacrifice bunt. A passed ball allowed Maddox to trot home with the evening's first run, and Dylan Becker coaxed the Bears' second base-on-balls of the frame just ahead of an Eric Cheray RBI single that kicked off a string of four consecutive Missouri State hits. Spiker Helms followed with the first of his two run-scoring hits on the night, and Kevin Medrano added a single to left. Brent Seifert capped the scoring with a base hit to left that scored both Cheray and Helms for a 5-0 MSU lead.
Missouri State pushed its lead to seven runs with a two-run rally in the third that was highlighted by Becker's one-out double to left and Helms's second RBI single of the game.
Petree made the lead stand, working out of trouble in every inning except the fourth to preserve the MSU advantage. The sophomore right-hander got out of a two-on, nobody out jam in the third by fanning cleanup hitter Eric Aguilera and retiring Kevin Tokarski on a fly ball to right. Petree would victimize Aguilera and Tokarski again in the fifth, posting back-to-back strikeouts to thwart a bases-loaded scoring chance for the Redbirds and extend his personal string of consecutive innings without giving up an earned run to 43.1 straight frames over six starts.
After the Redbirds fought back to within five runs with a three-run seventh, MSU put the game on ice courtesy of a Medrano RBI single in the home half of the inning and a four-run rally in the eighth that was highlighted by back-to-back two-run doubles by Becker and Chaffin.
Seifert led the way with a 3-for-5, three-RBI performance, while Massenberg scored three times on three hits and Becker drove in three runs with a 2-for-4 effort.
Game two saw the Bears once again break out the bats to post double-digit totals for runs scored and hits (15), then hand the ball off to freshman reliever Tyler Burgess, who worked a career-long 3 1/3 scoreless innings. Burgess entered the game with the tying run on base in the top of the sixth and, despite fighting some control issues, gave the Bears all they needed in establishing a new Missouri State freshman record with his eighth save of the season.
But not before the Redbirds seized the early advantage against MSU starter Cody Schumacher. Tokarski secured a lead-off walk and scored from third on a double-play ball in the second inning to hand ISU a 1-0 lead.
The Bears continued their hot hitting in the bottom of the second, answering ISU's tally by scoring times with two men out against Redbird starter Dylan Craig. Luke Voit started the rally with a lead-off single, and Chaffin kept the inning alive with a two-out RBI single to right-center before Patrick Drake's double down the left-field line gave the Bears the lead. After Cheray drew a base on balls, Helms delivered the biggest blow of the inning with a three-run homer to left-center to stake Schumacher and the Bears to a 5-1 advantage.
ISU cut its deficit to two runs on two different occasions, but each time the Bears had an answer. Medrano plated a run in the fourth with a sacrifice fly, and MSU struck for two more in the sixth after hits by Seifert, Voit and Maddox loaded the bases before the Redbirds could record an out. A wild pitch and a bases-loaded walk to Becker accounted for the scoring and gave Burgess some breathing room. The Bears stretched their lead to six in the seventh, as Helms, Medrano and Voit doubled against reliever Ryan Camp.
Missouri State got big days at the plate up and down its batting order, but especially from the trio of Helms, Seifert and Voit, who combined to go 15-for-28 with 11 runs batted-in over the first two games of the series. Chaffin also came through for MSU, going 4-for-7 with a pair of walks three RBIs on the day.
Schumacher (4-0) earned the victory to keep his perfect record as a Bear intact. The junior allowed four runs on five hits while fanning five over 5 1/3 innings before yielding to his bullpen.
Due to impending weather, the first pitch of Sunday's series finale has been moved up to noon.