Hall in Command as Bears Topple Tigers, 4-2
April 24, 2013
COLUMBIA, Mo. - Missouri State rode seven strong innings from starting pitcher Matt Hall and an 11-hit attack by its offense to knock off Missouri by a 4-2 score Wednesday evening at Taylor Stadium. Hall struck out a career-best six batters and held the Tigers to a single run on just three hits, while Eric Cheray went 2-for-4 with a two-run home run to lead the Bears (25-11) to their fourth straight victory.
Hall improved to 4-1 on the season with his career-long seven-inning stint, and senior reliever Grant Gordon worked the final two innings to wrap up the win and his 10th career save.
Cheray reached base in three of his five trips to the plate to spark the MSU offense, and Keenen Maddox chipped in with two hits to record his eighth multi-hit effort in MSU's last 10 games. Dylan Becker also added a pair of singles, as the Bears' team hit total reached double figures for the ninth time in their last 10 outings. MSU also registered a season-high four stolen bases in evening the all-time series with the Tigers at 23 wins apiece.
Missouri State took control of the contest, as Hall sat the Tigers down in order in the first and held MU without a hit until the third to give his offense time to get warmed up. After MU starter Jace James retired the Bears in order in the first, MSU kicked its offense into gear in the second, as Luke Voit singled with one out for the first hit of the game. The Bears' senior catcher swiped his seventh base of the season in as many attempts to set up an MSU scoring chance, and Becker golfed a single into shallow right to put runners on the corners. James recovered, however, getting Spencer Johnson to pop up to second on a 3-1 pitch before striking out Travis McComack to end the inning and strand both runners.
The Bears would not squander their next scoring opportunity, as Joey Hawkins drove a base hit into center to start the third, and Cheray launched his first home run of the season and the second of his career - a two-run shot into the trees beyond the right-field wall - to hand Missouri State a 2-0 lead.
Missouri answered right back in its half of the third, as Hall worked himself into a jam by issuing walks to Kendall Keaton and Logan Pearson. Dane Opel made the Bears pay, driving in Keeton with a two-out single to center to slice the Bears' lead in half.
But Hall would settle into a groove to retire eight straight batters after a lead-off single by Dylan Kelly in the fourth. Voit would nail the runner at second on a stolen base attempt, and Hall would cruise through the sixth without allowing another baserunner.
MSU would take advantage of a critical Tiger miscue in the seventh to reclaim its two-run cushion. Tate Matheny started the rally with an infield single, and Cheray coaxed a walk from MU reliever Jake Walsh to give the Bears a pair of runners with just one out. Next, Maddox's hot shot to third had inning-ending double-play ball written all over it, but second baseman Kendall Keaton's throw to first was wild, allowing Matheny to trot home with the Bears' third run of the night.
Hall finished his ninth by wiggling out of another potential jam in the bottom of the seventh, as Kelly drew a lead-off walk to bring the tying run to the plate. Dillon Everett smashed Hall's 3-2 pitch to third, but Hawkins made a shoestring snare, then threw across the diamond before Kelly could return to the first-base bag for a momentum-swinging double play.
The Bears stretched their lead to 4-1 in the eighth when Johnson singled with two out, swiped second and scored on McComack's base hit up the middle off Eric Anderson.
Gordon kept the Tigers off the scoreboard in the eighth, but a one-out error in the ninth and a Josh Lester RBI-double combined to stop the right-hander's string of 7.0 consecutive scoreless innings and put the tying run in scoring position with just one out. Gordon came through, getting pinch hitter Jake Ivory to chase a third strike for the second out, then inducing a game-clinching ground ball to short off the bat of Keeton.
Lester led the Tigers with a 2-for-4 night, while James (3-2) suffered the loss after allowing the first two MSU runs on five hits over three innings of work.
Up next, the Bears will continue their road swing Friday (April 26) when they open a three-game Missouri Valley Conference series against Evansville with a 6 p.m. game at Braun Stadium.