Bears Overcome Late Deficit to Edge Evansville in MVC Tourney Opener
May 21, 2013
NORMAL, Ill. - Missouri State used two-run rally in the bottom of the ninth inning to claim a 2-1 victory over Evansville Tuesday in the opening round of the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference Baseballl Championship at Duffy Bass Field. Travis McComack's sacrifice fly brought in Luke Voit with the game-winner after a pair of costly UE errors kept the Bears' big inning alive.
After being held scoreless on just three hits by Evansville starting pitcher Kyle Lloyd over the first eight innings, Missouri State got big contributions from a pair of freshmen to start its late comeback. Tate Matheny coaxed a lead-off walk from Lloyd, before Spencer Johnson delivered a base hit into shallow left-center field. Matheny boldly went from first to third, sliding into the bag just ahead of the tag of Jonathan Ramon to give MSU runners at the corners with nobody out.
Next, the first of two critical errors on Ramon opened the door for the Bears' third victory in four games against the Purple Aces this season. Voit, who had singled in two of his three previous trips to the plate, bounced a hot shot that careened off the UE freshman's glove, allowing Matheny to cross the plate with the tying run. Keenen Maddox followed with another bouncer to third that got through Ramon and into left field to load the bases, still with no outs being registered in the inning. Facing Conor Smith, Lloyd induced a third consecutive grounder to Ramon, who this time fired home cleanly to force Johnson for the first out in the frame.
But McComack came through, lofting Lloyd's 131st pitch of the game into left for the game-ending sacrifice.
MSU's late rally spoiled another standout performance by Lloyd against a Bears team he had beaten in each of his previous three outings in the series. The All-MVC right-hander coasted through the first eight innings, giving up just two Voit singles and a McComack base hit in the fifth to keep MSU off the board.
Evansville wasted little time in taking command, as Kevin Kaczmarski doubled off MSU starter Nick Petree to start the game, then came home on Jason Hockemeyer's two-out single up the middle. Petree nearly escaped the inning without incurring any damage, striking out Chris Pearson and getting Jake Mahon on a fly ball to left. But Hockemeyer lined a full-count offering up the middle, and Kaczmarski scored easily ahead of Matheny's throw to the plate for the lone UE tally of the contest.
Petree would hold the Aces from that point, working around potential UE threats in the fifth and sixth innings before giving way to his bullpen with one out in the seventh. Lefty reliever Matt Hall would put the clamps down on the Evansville offense with two hitless innings, allowing just a lead-off walk in the ninth after retiring the first five hitters he faced. Senior Grant Gordon squashed a UE scoring chance in the final frame, getting Shain Showers on a bouncer to first and Andy Lasher on a liner to left to leave a second potential run in scoring position.
Gordon (2-3) would earn the victory in his 82nd career appearance after Petree scattered eight hits over his 6 1/3 innings. The MSU starter struck out four to up his 2013 total to 111 punchouts, moving the right-hander past Ross Detwiler on the Bears' single-season strikeout list for the second year in a row.
Voit's 2-for-4 night paced the Bears, who totaled just four hits to go along with four walks against Lloyd.
Kaczmarski finished with a pair of hits for UE, which left eight men on base in the loss. Lloyd (7-4) allowed both MSU runs (one earned) while striking out five in the complete-game effort.
With the victory, the fourth-seeded Bears (31-21) move on to play the winner of Tuesday's final opening-round contest pitting top-seeded Illinios State against No. 8 Bradley at 7:37 p.m. Wednesday (May 22).