Evansville Stops Bears' Win Streak With Ninth-Inning Rally
April 27, 2013
EVANSVILLE, Ind. - Nick Hathcoat's two-out single in the bottom of the ninth handed Evansville a 2-1 walk-off victory over the Missouri State Bears Saturday afternoon at Braun Stadium. UE starting pitcher Kyle Lloyd turned in another dominant performance against the Bears (26-12, 10-4 MVC), striking out a career-high 12 batters in a complete-game effort.
Single tallies in their first and last at-bats would be enough for the Purple Aces (16-28, 7-7 MVC) , who scratched out the game-winning run after MSU reliever Grant Gordon beaned Shain Showers with one out, and Andy Lasher pushed the runner into scoring position with a grounder to second. Hathcoat then lined Gordon's 1-0 pitch over the head of second baseman Eric Cheray, and Showers beat Dylan Becker's throw to the plate to give the Aces the win, which snapped the Bears' five-game win streak.
While Hathcoat came up big in the clutch for Evansville, the Bears missed out on several opportunities to gain the upper hand late in the contest. MSU left the potential go-ahead run in scoring position in four of the last five innings, as Lloyd managed to wiggle his way out of trouble each time.
Lloyd (6-2), who held the Bears to one run on six hits over eight innings in a 3-1 win at Hammons Field last season, yielded just five hits and a pair of walks in his nine innings Saturday. While three of those hits went for extra bases, the Bears failed to move the baserunner in each instance. After evening the score at 1-1 in the fifth, MSU stranded the go-ahead baserunner at third in that inning and left runners at second in the sixth and eighth frames before failing to bring home a runner from third after a seemingly damaging error by Lloyd in the final inning.
Evansville's decisive rally came on the heels of a golden opportunity for MSU in the top half of the ninth when Lloyd misfired to first for a three-base error on Conner Wilson's bunt attempt to lead off the inning. The Bears would not be able to take advantage of one of Lloyd's few mistakes on the afternoon, as three straight MSU hitters failed to get the ball out of the infield. Travis McComack bounced to first against the Aces' drawn-in infield before Becker struck out and Joey Hawkins tapped out in front of the plate for a momentum-swinging final out.
After the Bears battered UE starter Kyle Freeland for seven runs over the first three innings of Friday's series opener, Lloyd made sure the Purple Aces were the ones taking control early in game two. The senior struck out the side in the top of the first, fanned seven of the Bears' first 10 batters and faced just one batter over the minimum through the first three frames.
Given the early lift by its starting pitcher, the Aces followed Lloyd's lead to claim a 1-0 lead after Kevin Kaczmarski doubled to lead off the home half of the first, and Jason Hockemeyer lined a pitch off the leg of Harris for a run-scoring fielder's choice.
Following the first-inning run for UE, Harris settled into a groove, allowing just two more hits the rest of the way. The Bears freshman saw his string of eight-straight victories come to an end with the no-decision, despite retiring the last nine batters he faced. Harris allowed just one run on four hits and three walks while fanning six hitters.
Lloyd made the lead stand through four innings, mowing down nine hitters via strikeouts and limiting the Bears to just one hit until McComack led off the fifth with a base hit to right. Becker followed with a single to right on a perfectly-executed hit-and-run and Hockemeyer's relay throw was wild, allowing both runners to move into scoring position with nobody out. Lloyd recovered to strike out Hawkins for his 10th punchout of the game, but pinch hitter Matt Dezort put the Bears on the board with an RBI-ground out to short. MSU left the potential go-ahead run at third, however, when Matheny fouled out to first to end the threat.
After a one-two-three inning by Harris in the bottom half of the fifth, the Bears generated another scoring chance when Cheray hammered a double into the right-center field gap to start the sixth. But, for the third time in the contest, Lloyd would strand a would-be Bears' run in scoring position by retiring Keenen Maddox on a fly to left before coaxing back-to-back grounders to stall the MSU rally.
Gordon (1-2) suffered the loss for the Bears after allowing the game-winner on two hits over an inning-and-two-thirds.
Matheny saw his career-best 12-game hit streak come to an end, as the Bears were held to under 10 hits for just the second time in their last 12 games.
The two clubs will wrap up their series Sunday (April 28) with a 1 p.m. game at Braun Stadium.