Junior Retires 17 Consecutive Batters in 9-5 Win Over Evansville to Open Key MVC Series
April 26, 2013
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Missouri State built an early five-run lead, then turned to its ace to withstand Evansville’s comeback bid to post its fifth-straight victory with a 9-5 decision over the Purple Aces Friday evening at Braun Stadium. After a sluggish start to his night, Nick Petree finished in a blaze of glory, retiring the last 17 hitters he faced to earn his seventh victory of the season and help the Bears gain sole possession of first place in the Missouri Valley Conference standings.
For the second straight week Petree (7-1) fought off an early assault by the opposition to log a season-high 11 strikeouts, moving past Kirby Cannon into second place on the Bears’ all-time victories list with his 26th career win. The junior right-hander yielded five runs over the first 2 2/3 innings – the most Petree had allowed since being touched up for six runs in a March 13, 2011 appearance at Southern Miss – but recovered to keep the Purple Aces off the base paths the rest of the way,
Missouri State set the tone for the first third of the game from the very first at-bat, as Tate Matheny unloaded on a Kyle Freeland (3-7) offering for a lead-off home run -- his second round-tripper to start a game this season. Matheny's shot that cleared the left-center field wall would merely serve as an appetizer for what would follow, as the Bears added three more runs in the first to build a 4-0 lead. Eric Cheray drew the first of his three walks on the night and Keenen Maddox recorded the first of his three hits to set the table for Luke Voit, who kept the early momentum going with a run-scoring double to right-center. Koby Peebles's ground ball to short brought in Maddox, before Spencer Johnson's two-out bouncer found its way into left field for an RBI single.
Evansville got one of those runs back in the home half of the first when Kevin Kaczmarski walked to start the inning and later scored on Jason Hockemeyer's double-play grounder to second.
The Bears went right back to work in the second, getting run-scoring singles from Maddox and Peebles to stretch the margin to five runs against Freeland, who blanked MSU with a complete-game one-hitter last May in Springfield.
But the Aces wouldn't go quietly, scoring twice in the second thanks to some shaky defense in the MSU outfield. Shain Showers drive into left-center fell in between Matheny and Maddox for a double, and Johnson got turned around on a Jonathan Ramon fly to right for a run-scoring triple. Nick Hathcoat's sac fly made it a 6-3 game, as UE matched a Missouri State opponent season high for earned runs scored against Petree.
MSU scratched out an unearned run of its own in the third, taking advantage of the first of Showers's two errors on a Johnson grounder to start the frame. A pair of walks -- including a two-out pass to Maddox with the bases loaded -- chased Freeland from the game and handed the Bears a 7-3 lead. UE reliever James Kohler avoided further damage by striking out Voit to set off a 5 1/3 inning scoreless stretch for Purple Aces relievers.
The Purple Aces pulled to within two runs in the bottom of the inning, as Ramon's two-run double with two out plated a pair of unearned runs against Petree.
But Petree struck out Andy Lasher, who reached base on a third-strike wild pitch, before ending the threat by inducing a come-backer from Hathcoat to begin his stretch of dominance. He recorded his first one-two-three inning in the fourth and proceded to set down five straight hitters via strikeouts over the ensuing two frames. The Aces would not put a man on base until Ramon drew a lead-off walk against reliever Tyler Burgess in the ninth after Missouri State finally broke through against UE reliever Sam Johns in the top half of the inning for two insurance runs.
Maddox finished the night 3-for-4 with three RBIs, and Cheray reached base in five of his six trips to the plate, going 2-for-3 with three walks and a pair of runs scored. Johnson added two hits and an RBI, while Peebles drove in two runs to lead the Bears' offense.
Ramon paced the UE attack with a 2-for-3 night and three runs batted-in.
The Bears and Purple Aces continue their series Saturday (April 27) afternoon with a 2 p.m. game at Braun Stadium.