Bears Even Series With 3-2 Win Over Creighton
May 17, 2013
OMAHA, Neb. - Eric Cheray's two-out, RBI single in the top of the ninth inning provided the winning margin for Missouri State in a 3-2 victory over Creighton before a crowd of 12,581 spectators Friday evening at TD Ameritrade Park. Cheray snapped a 2-2 tie with a line drive to right that brought in Travis McComack with the go-ahead run, and Grant Gordon turned out the lights on the Bluejays with a flawless bottom of the ninth to earn the save.
The win halted the Bears' (30-20, 12-8 MVC) four-game Missouri Valley Conference streak and moved MSU into a tie for third in the league's regular-season standings. Tomorrow's series finale will determine the No. 3 seed for next week's MVC Championship in Normal, Ill., with the Bears and Bluejays even with matching 12-8 records in conference play after Friday's result.
After Peter and fellow CU reliever Mark Lukowski combined to retire 10 straight MSU hitters, McComack's one-out single set up the Bears' ninth-inning rally. Joey Hawkins moved McComack into scoring position with the fifth Missouri State sacrifice of the evening, before Cheray put the Bears on top for good.
Gordon then quickly dispatched the Bluejays in the home half, fanning a pair of CU hitters to wrap up his team-leading fourth save of the year and the 12th of his MSU career. The right-hander's performance helped make a winner of fellow senior Erik Shannahan, who turned in an inning and two-thirds of hitless relief in support of starter Jon Harris.
Harris was solid for the Bears over his 6 1/3-inning effort, holding the 'Jays to two runs (one earned) on four hits and three walks while fanning four batters.
In reaching the 30-win plateau for the third-straight steason and the 29th time in program history, the Bears had to dig themselves out of an early hole for the second day in a row. Just as they did in Thursday's series opener, the Bluejays jumped plated a first-inning tally to take an early 1-0 lead. After going 3-for-4 in the opener, Brad McKewon picked up right where he left off Thursday, singling off Harris to open the game. Federico Castagnini's MVC-leading 19th sacrifice bunt of the year moved the runner into scoring position before Luke Voit was charged with a passed ball to allow McKewon to advance to third and Jake Peter's bouncer to the right side put the home team on top with an unearned run.
Missouri State took advantage of a pair of Creighton defensive miscues to even the score with an unearned run of their own in the third. Hawkins's tap single in front of the plate forced the first of two throwing errors in the inning by catcher Jerry Mitchell, giving MSU a runner in scoring position with nobody out. After Cheray sacrificed to move Hawkins over to third, Creighton appeared to dodge a bullet when Tate Matheny's squeeze attempt resulted in Hawkins being cut down at the plate for the second out.
But a wild pitch and a walk to Keenen Maddox handed MSU another scoring opportunity. The Bears would capitalize on a second CU error to tie it up when Mitchell's throw to second on the back end of a wild pitch sailed into center field to allow Matheny to score.
The Bears struck again the following inning to grab their first lead of the night, getting back-to-back singles from Spencer Johnson and Conor Smith to initiate another rally. Dylan Becker moved both runners over with a sacrifice bunt, and McComack put MSU on top with a sac fly to center.
Creighton (29-16, 12-8 MVC) wasted little time in knotting things up again, answering the Bears' run with one of its of own in the bottom of the fourth. Harris issued a lead-off walk to Jake Peter to get the ball rolling, before Regan Fowler drove him home with the first triple of his college career with one out.
Harris was able to keep the game even by inducing a pop up off the bat of Brennan Murphy and a grounder to third from Michael Blatchford to avoid further damage.
From there, Harris and his relief corps never faced a serious CU threat, as the Bluejays sent the minimum number of hitters to the plate over the final three innings, with Shannahan and Gordon teaming up to retire the final seven batters of the game in order.
McComack went 1-for-3 with an RBI to go along with his game-winning run, while Johnson and Smith each chipped in two hits to pace the MSU offense.
Up next, the Bears and Bluejays will close out the series and the regular season with a 1 p.m. game Saturday (May 18).