Wright State's Eighth-Inning Rally Hands Bears 6-4 Setback
May 12, 2013
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Wright State erased a three-run deficit with a four-run, eighth-inning rally to salvage a 6-4 victory over the Missouri State Bears in the final contest of the two clubs' three-game series at Hammons Field Sunday evening. The Raiders struck for four runs over a span of just seven pitches to overcome a disadvantage that seemed insurmountable against a Missouri State pitching staff that had allowed just three total runs over the first 25 innings of the series.
Despite holding a comfortable lead for most of the night, the Bears saw their advantage vanish in a flash, as the third of Kieston Greene's four hits set off a string of four straight WSU hits against MSU reliever Zach Merciez (0-2) with one out in the decisive eighth. Garrett Gray and Kody Krizman followed with back-to-back singles before Mark Fowler delivered the biggest blow of the game with a two-run triple to right-center that knotted the score at 4-4 and put the go-ahead run just 90-feet away from home plate.
Michael Timm would not wait long to hand the Raiders their first lead of the series, lofting Merciez's first offering to center to drive in Fowler with what would prove to be the deciding run.
WSU reliever Travis Hissong (2-1) would polish off the victory by working into and out of trouble in the bottom of the eighth, after a Spencer Johnson single and a pair of walks loaded the bases with two out. Timm would come up with another big play for the Raiders -- this time by snaring a liner off the bat of pinch hitter Conner Wilson for the final out of the inning.
After watching his teammates tack on their fifth run against the MSU bullpen in the top of the ninth, Hissong wrapped up the win with a one-two-three bottom half, striking out Keenen Maddox for the final out that punctuated a strong effort from the WSU bullpen. Hissong combined with fellow right-hander Taylor Braun to limit the Bears to just two hits over the final 4 2/3 innings to give the Raider offense time to click.
Greene paced Wright State's 12-hit attack with a 4-for-5 night, while Justin Kopale added a pair of hits.
The late turn of events followed a strong start for the Bears, who scored three times in the second to build an early lead for the third straight game in the series. Additionally, the setback wasted another strong mound effort from a Missouri State freshman, as Andy Cheray held the Raiders to just one run on five hits while matching a career high with six strikeouts over seven innings of work.
Luke Voit started the Bears' big inning with a lead-off double into the right-center field gap, and Keenen Maddox followed with a base hit to right off WSU starter Robbie Sexton. Next, Koby Peebles reached via a hit-by-pitch to load the bases, and Patrick Drake's fielder's choice tap back to the mound brought in MSU's first run of the day when Sexton's throw pulled catcher Jason DeFevers off the plate. A walk to Travis McComack forced home a second tally, before Joey Hawkins sacrifice fly made it a 3-0 game.
After WSU trimmed the margin to two runs in the third thanks to a Kopale single, a passed ball and a Sam Picchiotti sac fly to center, the Bears capitalized on a lead-off triple by Drake in the fourth to reclaim their three-run cushion.
Cheray would maintain the lead from that point, allowing just two fifth-inning singles before yielding to his bullpen to start the eighth inning.
Despite the early lead, the Bears shot themselves in the foot on multiple occasions to let scoring opportunities slip away. MSU saw baserunners picked off in two different innings with multiple men on base, and left runners in scoring position in five of the final eight innings.
Johnson accounted for half of the Bears' six hits on the night, while McComack drove in a pair of runs to lead the MSU attack.
Up next, Missouri State will wrap up the regular season on the road with its final Missouri Valley Conference series against Creighton, beginning with a 12:30 p.m. contest Thursday (May 16) at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha.