Sycamores Clinch MVC Title With 6-3 Decision Over Bears
May 17, 2012
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Indiana State pounded out 15 hits and rode a complete-game effort from Dakota Bacus to wrap up its first outright Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title with a 6-3 victory over the Missouri State Bears Thursday evening at Bob Warn Field. The Sycamores plated the go-ahead run on a two-out, infield single by Lucas Hileman in the sixth, and Bacus held the Bears scoreless over the final five innings to squash MSU's title hopes.
Hileman was one of three Sycamores to come through with a three-hit night, as ISU touched up Bears' starter Nick Petree for 12 hits over six innings. League player of the year candidate Jeremy Lucas went 3-for-4 and drove in a pair of runs, including the first of two key insurance runs with a triple in the bottom of the eighth, while Kyle Burnam also posted a 3-for-4 night and Landon Curry sparked the Sycamores with two hits, a pair of walks and two runs scored in five trips to the plate.
Bacus (7-3) was just as clutch on the mound for ISU, turning in his third complete game of the season by holding the Bears to three runs (two earned) on eight hits while striking out five and walking three hitters.
Petree, who entered the night with a Missouri State record 38-inning scoreless streak, rebounded from a rough start that saw the Sycamores score three times on seven hits over the first two innings, but couldn't work his way out of trouble in the decisive sixth frame. Landon Curry started the pivotal rally by coaxing a base on balls from Petree, and Lucas added his second hit of the game with one out. Petree retired Rob Ort on a fly ball to center for out number two, but beaned Jon Hedges to keep the rally alive.
That was just enough of a window for the Sycamores. Hileman hit a slow two-hopper to short and beat Eric Cheray's throw to first, allowing Curry to race home with the go-ahead run.
ISU (41-13, 14-6 MVC) salted away the game in the eighth, getting back-to-back extra-base hits from Burnam and Lucas to start the inning, before tacking on a two-out unearned run against reliever Grant Gordon via a passed ball. Missouri State had one last charge left, putting a pair of runners on base in the ninth to bring the tying run to the plate. But Bacus put the final nail in the Bears' coffin, coaxing a grounder to second off the bat of Spiker Helms to complete the win.
The Sycamores' title-clinching win came on the heels of a valiant comeback effort by the Bears, who found themselves in an immediate hole after ISU took to the offensive with three early runs. The home club wasted little time in jumping on Petree, striking for a run on three hits in the bottom of the first to snap the sophomore hurler's school-record scoreless innings streak. Lead-off man Curry singled up the middle and moved into scoring position on a Burnam sacrifice. Next, Lucas drove a base hit into left-center field to put the Sycamores on the board and end Petree's 38 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings streak, as well as a string of 73 straight frames without allowing an earned run dating back to March 2.
The Sycamores kept the pressure on in the second by pounding Petree for two more runs on four hits, including three that went for extra bases. Ryan Walterhouse got things started with a ringing double to left, and Koby Kraemer followed with a bunt single to set up a two-run double by Curry that pushed the ISU lead to 3-0.
But the Bears started their comeback in the third, taking advantage of a critical Sycamore error to snap a 16-inning scoreless drought. Missouri State. After Cheray drew a lead-off walk and Kevin Medrano reached on a fielder's choice, Brent Seifert's one-out base hit to center drove in both baserunners to draw Missouri State to within one run. The following inning saw the Bears pull even by manufacturing a two-out rally with a Dylan Becker walk and a Cheray double down the left-field line.
But Bacus settled into a groove to retire 10 of the next 11 hitters to keep the Bears off the board to allow the Sycamore offense time to scratch out the go-ahead run in the sixth.
Petree (10-3) dropped just his second decision since opening day, allowing a season-high four runs.
Up next, the Bears (35-18, 11-7 MVC) will try to lock down the No. 2 seed at next week's State Farm MVC Championship in Springfield with another 5:30 p.m. (Central) against the Sycamores Friday.