Indiana State Completes Another Comeback, Series Sweep of Bears
May 11, 2014
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - For the third time in as many days, Indiana State rallied to overcome an early deficit against Missouri State, completing its three-game sweep of the Bears with a 4-3 victory Sunday afternoon at Bob Warn Field. Jeff Zahn's two-out single in the bottom of the eighth inning plated the go-ahead run after ISU erased a three-run deficit in the home half of the seventh.
MSU, which built leads of at least three runs in each of the three games in the series, got a strong start from Clay Murphy, but could not close out the Sycamores. ISU scored for the first time on Zahn's RBI hit in the seventh, then took advantage of a critical error to push two more runs across the plate to even the score.
Zahn struck again the following frame, driving a base hit through the right side of the Bears' infield to bring in Jacob Hayes with the winning tally. Hayes, who struck out against Murphy in each of his first three trips to the plate Sunday, rebounded to start the Sycamores eighth with a hit, and Manuel Estevez added a pinch single to move the go-ahead run into scoring position. Bears reliever Matt Hall induced a fly ball to center for the second out, but Zahn delivered for the second time in as many innings with his game-clinching hit against Zach Merciez. Freshman reliever Ryan Keaffaber (3-1) worked a scoreless ninth to finish off the victory--his second win over the Bears in the series. The left-hander allowed just one hit and recorded the Sycamores' lone strikeout of the day in two shutout innings.
The heartbreaking loss followed a familiar pattern for the Bears, who suffered their first road series sweep to the Sycamores in 12 trips to Terre Haute since joining the Valley in 1991. Just as they did in the first two games of the series, the Bears broke on top with the game's first runs, this time scoring three times with a two-out rally in the second inning. Eric Cheray's one-out line drive into shallow left-center got the ball rolling for MSU, before Conner Wilson's base hit to right with two out kept the rally alive. ISU starter Kurt Kudrecki dealt Aaron Meyer a four-pitch walk to load the bases, then forced home the first run of the game with another base on balls, this one to Blake Graham. Joey Hawkins followed with a hot shot up the middle to bring in both Wilson and Meyer for a 3-0 Bears' advantage.
Kudrecki recovered to get Tate Matheny on an inning-ending bouncer to third, starting a stretch that would see the right-hander retire the next 14 Bears he would face before departing with one out in the seventh. In all, the senior righty allowed just four hits and a pair of walks over his 6.1 innings of work.
Given the lead, Murphy nearly matched Kudrecki's dominance over the middle innings, as the MSU senior worked out of a second-inning jam by getting Connor McClain on an inning-ending liner to short. Murphy followed with four additional shutout frames, retiring 11 of the next 12 Sycamores he faced. But after fanning two more Sycamores in the sixth, Murphy surrendered a leadoff double to Brian Romero in the seventh. Zahn put ISU on the board with his first run-scoring single, and McClain added a base hit before a wild pitch moved the potential tying run into scoring position.
After Murphy got Derek Hannahs to chase a third strike for the second out, Hall took over and appeared to have gotten the inning-ending chopper he needed. But, after fielding Landon Curry's grounder to the right side of the infield, Hall's toss to Conor Smith got by the senior first baseman, allowing both runners time to cross the plate.
Murphy was charged with three runs (one earned) on five hits, while striking out nine and walking one over his 6 2/3 innings. Hall was tagged with the loss after giving up the deciding run on a pair of hits in two-thirds of an inning.
Hawkins' two-run single provided one of the few notable moments for the Missouri State offense, which was limited to six hits and just two baserunners after its lone scoring rally in the second.
Up next, the Bears return to Hammons Field to conclude the regular season with a three-game Valley series against Evansville. Thursday's (May 15) opener is scheduled for a 6:35 p.m. first pitch, with 1:05 p.m. games to follow both Friday and Saturday.