Johnson, Bears Take Series From Indiana State With 5-0 Victory
May 19, 2012
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Behind eight shutout innings from Pierce Johnson, the Missouri State Bears closed out the regular season in style with a 5-0 win over Indiana State Saturday at Bob Warn Field. Johnson held the Missouri Valley Conference champs to four hits while striking out six Sycamores in a series-clinching victory and the 10th shutout effort of the season for the Bears.
With Johnson (3-6) in command throughout the afternoon, the Bears' offense touched up six ISU pitchers for 13 hits to reach double digits for the second day in a row. Keenen Maddox's two-run homer broke up a scoreless pitcher's duel in the sixth inning and initiated a stretch that would see seven of the next eight MSU hitters reach base to turn the tide for good.
Kevin Medrano led the way for the Bears with his second consecutive three-hit game, while Luke Voit registered hits in his final three at-bats to help spark the Bears' offense. With the win, the Bears (37-18, 13-7 MVC) finished the regular season just one-half game behind the Sycamores (41-15, 14-7 MVC), who had taken each of their last 12 series prior to this weekend.
After rapping out 15 hits in their 7-5 win over the Sycamores Friday, the Bears generated a pair of early scoring opportunities again Saturday, putting their first two batters on base in both the third and fourth innings. But ISU starter Ryan Torgerson (8-3) found a way out of both jams, getting a pop-up and a pair of fly balls to end the third before rolling a 6-4-3 double play to kill the Bears' fourth-inning threat.
Johnson was even better for the Bears, beginning the game by striking out the side in the first and allowing just three baserunners while recording all six of his strikeouts through the first four innings.
The Bears' key inning started innocently enough, with Brent Seifert and Brock Chaffin bouncing out to third. But Voit delivered his second hit of the day to kick off a string of four-straight two-out hits for Missouri State, and Maddox followed with his second home run in as many days to put the Bears on top, 2-0. Derek Mattea and Patrick Drake added singles to keep the inning alive, but Torgerson coaxed a ground ball to first from Eric Cheray to escape further damage.
MSU kept its hot streak going the following inning, as Medrano lined a base hit to right for his third hit of the afternoon to kick start another two-run rally. Spiker Helms drew a walk from Tyler Pazik, and Seifert drove a solid single through the left side of the ISU infield to plate Medrano with the third Bears' tally of the day. Chaffin's sacrifice fly to center brought in Helms and pushed the margin to four runs.
Mattea struck again in the eighth, drilling a lead-off double to left that would ultimately hand MSU a 5-0 lead after back-to-back sacrifice's by Drake and Cheray. Mattea would finish with his second-straight two-hit game, while Cheray would add to his MSU single-season record for sacrifice hits with his RBI squeeze bunt.
That would be more than enough for Johnson, who retired nine of the last 10 batters he faced before handing the ball off to Tyler Burgess. After a lead-off walk to Landon Curry, Burgess coaxing a double-play ball and a grounder to third to complete the shutout.
With the regular season complete, the Bears return to Hammons Field to host the 2012 State Farm MVC Championship, beginning with a 7:30 p.m. game against the seventh-seeded Bradley Braves Tuesday (May 22) evening. All-session and single-game tickets for the tournament are on sale now at the Missouri State Athletics Box Office and may be obtained in person at the Chevy Pickup Window at JQH Arena, or by calling (417) 836-7678 or toll-free (888) 476-7849.