Redbirds Stop Bears' Win Streak With 6-1 Decision
April 19, 2014
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Missouri State saw its three-game win streak come to an end Saturday afternoon with a 6-1 setback to Illinois State at Hammons Field. The Redbirds pounded out 13 hits, while the duo of Dylan Craig and Brock Stewart held the Bears to just three hits on the day to level the two clubs' Missouri Valley Conference series at one game apiece.
Paul DeJong matched a career high with four hits, including a two-run homer in the top of the ninth that all but iced the victory for the visiting Redbirds (23-12, 6-5 MVC). ISU received an offensive lift from the bottom half of its batting order as well, with the Redbirds' No. 6 through 9 hitters combining for eight hits on the day.
Craig kept the Bears off balance throughout his seven innings, allowing just one run on three hits and three walks while fanning six hitters. Stewart closed out the win with two hitless frames to earn his first career save.
Illinois State seized control early, breaking on top with a three-run rally in the second that was highlighted by Dennis Colon's two-run single. After MSU starter Clay Murphy set the Redbirds down in order in the first, Stewart initiated the scoring opportunity by drawing a one-out walk, before Joe Kelch's bouncer up the middle found its way through the Bears' infield for the first of three consecutive ISU hits. Sean Beesley followed with a bunt single to load the bases, and Colon's soft grounder found its way through the right side of the MSU infield to bring in both Stewart and Kelch. Finally, Brian Rodemoyer's fielder's choice grounder to third plated Beesley to make it a 3-0 game.
The visitors added to their lead with a single tally in the fourth after Kelch and Beesley once again sparked the ISU offense with back-to-back base hits. Rodemoyer contributed the first of his two hits on the day to load the bases, and Jack Czeszewski fielder's choice drove home Kelch for a four-run Redbird cushion.
MSU (17-18, 6-5 MVC) threatened to cut into the lead in the fifth, getting a leadoff single from Joey Hawkins, a hit batsman and a two-out walk to Tate Matheny to load the bases. But Craig induced a ground ball to shortstop, and Colon's throw to first just nipped Eric Cheray to keep the Bears off the scoreboard.
Back-to-back walks from Craig to start the seventh would eventually break up the shutout bid, as Hawkins came around to score on Matheny's RBI grounder to second. But the ISU left-hander finished off Cheray on a swinging third strike to avoid further damage, and Stewart took care of the rest, permitting just a two-out walk to Trey Hair in the ninth before retiring Alex Jefferson for the final out.
In addition to DeJong's four-hit effort, Beesley went 2-for-2 with a pair of walks, while Kelch (2-for-5), Colon (2-for-4) and Rodemoyer (2-for-4) also posted multi-hit performances for the Redbirds.
Murphy (2-3) was saddled with the loss for MSU after allowing four runs on eight hits over 5.0 innings. Matt Hall worked the final 4.0 frames, surrendering the two runs on DeJong's homer and five hits overall while striking out four Redbirds.
The Bears and Redbirds conclude their three-game series with another 1:05 p.m. contest Sunday (April 20) at Hammons Field.