Johnson, Petree Lift Bears to 5-2 Win Over Bradley in Series Opener
April 19, 2013
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Spencer Johnson's three-run triple with two out in the fifth inning was all the offense Missouri State would need Friday, as Nick Petree struck out a season-high 11 batters over seven innings to lift the Bears to a 5-2 win over Bradley in the opening game of a three-game Missouri Valley Conference series at Hammons Field.
Petree (6-1) held the Valley's top hitting club in check through seven innings, allowing two runs on eight hits to notch his sixth victory of the season. The junior finished one strikeout shy of his career high, but moved into second on the Bears' all-time strikeouts list, passing Brett Sinkbeil (256) with his third-inning punchout of David Compitello. The victory, Petree's 25th as a Bear, also moved the right-hander into a tie for second on MSU's career wins list, matching Kirby Cannon's four-year win total.
With Petree in command on the mound, the Bears got a much-needed offensive shot in the arm from Johnson to erase a pair of one-run deficits. The freshman finished the night 2-for-3 with a walk and a career-high four RBIs, the last three of which came on his bases-loaded, two-out blast off the base of the wall in center that turned a 2-1 BU lead into a two-run Bears' advantage that Petree and two relievers would not relinquish.
Bradley would record their eighth and final hit of the game -- a single by Greg Partyka - to start the sixth, but Petree would set down the next six batters in succession to end his night, and Grant Gordon would retire all three hitters he faced in the eighth. Tyler Burgess followed suit in the ninth, getting three fly-ball outs to wrap up his third save of the season and his 14th as a Bear.
The victory for the Bears (22-11, 7-3 MVC) snapped a two-game losing streak and upped their record to 8-1 on Friday's this season.
The game started on a promising note for the Braves, as lead-off man Nolan Sponsler took advantage of a stiff 21 mile-per-hour breeze blowing out to right by lifting Petree's second pitch of the game over the wall in right-centerfield to stake the visitors to an early 1-0 lead. Petree worked around a one-out double by Max Murphy, fanning cleanup man Partyka and Paul Solka to keep it a one-run game.
Braves starter David Koll fed off of the early momentum provided by Sponsler's homer, holding the Bears at bay through the first three innings. The sophomore left-hander retired the first five Bears he faced before Johnson gave MSU its first baserunner with a two-out single in the second. Koll would wiggle his way out of a two-on, one-out jam in the third after hitting Eric Cheray with a pitch and walking Tate Matheny. The Bears failed to cash in when Keenen Maddox bounced out to first and Koby Peebles hit a first-pitch grounder to short to end the inning.
Missouri State would get on the board the following frame, benefitting from a throwing error by BU third baseman Curtiss Bunch to even the score on Johnson's fielder's choice grounder with one out. The Bears missed out on a chance to take their first lead, however, as Koll induced a rally-killing pop-up to third off the bat of Cheray to strand runners at the corners.
BU quickly responded in the top of the fifth, as Bunch and Compitello delivered back-to-back base hits to set up Mike Tauchman's two-out, run-scoring single to center that handed the Braves a 2-1 advantage.
But another costly BU error, a walk to Peebles and single by Luke Voit set up MSU's key scoring chance in the bottom half of the inning. Koll nearly worked his way out of trouble again by getting Conor Smith to wave and miss at a 3-2 offering for the second out, but Johnson unloaded on his first pitch to turn the tide in the Bears' favor for good.
MSU added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, as Maddox drove in Cheray with a sacrifice fly to right to give the Bears a three-run edge.
In addition to Johnson's career day at the plate, the Bears got a lift from Matheny, who finished 2-for-4 with a walk to record his club-best 18th multi-hit game.
Sponsler and Tauchman both registered two-hit games for Bradley, which out-hit the Bears by an 8-6 margin in the setback - its ninth in 10 Valley games this season. Koll (1-5) suffered the loss, despite holding the Bears to four unearned runs on four hits over 4 2/3 innings.
The Bears and Braves continue their series with a 2 p.m. contest Saturday (April 20), before wrapping up the weekend with a 1 p.m. game Sunday.