Bears Batter Dallas Baptist to Claim Series Finale, 10-5
May 4, 2014
DALLAS - Missouri State rode its biggest offensive outburst in nearly two years to a 10-5 victory over Dallas Baptist in the two clubs' series finale Sunday at Horner Ballpark. MSU scored seven times in the fourth inning to turn a 1-0 lead into an eight-run advantage, then cruised behind seven strong innings from starting pitcher Clay Murphy to salvage the final game of its season series with DBU and stop a four-game losing streak.
Tate Matheny led the Bears 12-hit attack with a 3-for-5 afternoon, including the biggest blow of the game as part of the Bears' first seven-run inning since June 2, 2012 in their victory over Miami at the NCAA Coral Gables Regional. The sophomore belted a grand slam to cap the Bears' rally and added an infield single in the sixth to finish the weekend 6-for-11 (.545) versus the Patriots.
MSU (20-24, 7-8 MVC) also got an offensive lift from Spencer Johnson, who matched a career high with three hits to help fuel the Bears' first two scoring chances of the day. The sophomore went 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored and a season-high three RBIs.
Missouri State opened the scoring in the third, as Johnson tripled to right to lead things off before Joey Hawkins drove him home with a bouncer to the right side. A one-out walk to Eric Cheray got the ball rolling in the fourth and began a stretch that would see five straight Bears reach base safely against DBU starter Cory Taylor. Dylan Becker delivered a single - the 100th hit of his MSU career - and Alex Jefferson reached base on a fielder's choice after Taylor threw wildly to third on the freshman's sacrifice attempt. Next, Johnson pounded a two-run single to center to make it a 3-0 game, before Hawkins came through with his second RBI of the day on a bunt single.
After a ground ball produced the second out of the inning, Aaron Meyer kept the rally alive by drawing a base on balls that loaded the bases for Matheny's critical blow. The Bears center fielder launched the first pitch he saw from Taylor over the wall in left-center for his eighth homer of the season and his first career slam.
The Bears tacked on two more runs in the fifth, as Johnson drove home another run with a base hit following a leadoff double by Becker and a single by Jefferson. Blake Graham completed the Bears' scoring with a sacrifice fly to left that brought in Jefferson for a 10-0 MSU lead.
Given a sizable lead, Murphy (4-3) kept the Patriots off the board until his final inning of work, allowing just three hits through the first six frames. The senior right-hander allowed a pair of runs in the seventh after back-to-back hits from Justin Wall and David Martinelli started the rally, and a pair of MSU errors kept it alive. In all, Murphy permitted just one earned run on six hits, striking out eight and walking two to notch his 15th career victory as a Bear.
The Patriots (31-16, 9-6 MVC) put three more runs on the board against reliever Matt Hall in the eighth, capitalizing on a walk, two hit batsmen and a two-out MSU error to slice the margin to five runs.
But Jake Powers recorded the final three outs of the inning to stop the bleeding, then closed out the victory with a perfect ninth. The senior righty fanned a pair of Patriots in the final frame and finished with three punchouts in his 2.0 innings of hitless relief.
In addition to big offensive performances from Matheny and Johnson, the Bears benefitted from Hawkins' second multi-RBI effort in the series, a two-hit game by Becker and two runs scored by Jefferson.
Daniel Salters logged two hits, while Wall went 1-for-3 with a pair of runs scored to pace the DBU offense.
Up next, the Bears return to Hammons Field for a pair of midweek non-conference games, starting with a 6:35 p.m. contest against Oral Roberts on Tuesday (May 6).