Schumacher, Bears Take Down Sycamores to Extend MVC Championship Run
May 21, 2014
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Missouri State rode a pair of big innings and a shutdown performance from starting pitcher Cody Schumacher to extend its season with a 9-1 victory over host Indiana State Wednesday afternoon at the Missouri Valley Conference Baseball Championship at Bob Warn Field.
The sixth-seeded Bears (24-30) scored four times in the bottom of the third inning, then broke the game open with a five-run eighth to eliminate the second-seeded Sycamores (35-16). Schumacher (6-2) played a key role in MSU's first win in Terre Haute in five tries this season, limiting ISU to a single run on three hits while striking out five and walking three over 8.0 strong innings.
Dylan Becker matched a career high with three hits in four trips to the plate, including a clutch two-out RBI single off ISU starter Brad Lombard (6-3) that capped the Bears' four-run third inning. A Sycamore error to start the inning opened the door for the Bears, who used a Joey Hawkins two-run single to open the scoring, before Becker's hot shot up the middle--coupled with another miscue in center field--brought home two more tallies for an early 4-0 MSU advantage.
Given the lead, Schumacher never let the Sycamores back in the game, permitting just one hit and a pair of walks through the first five innings. ISU rallied in the sixth to score its lone run of the contest, as Jacob Hayes walked to lead things off before back-to-back two-out hits from Connor McClain and Derek Hannahs put the Sycamores on the board.
Schumacher would avoid further damage in the sixth, preserving the 4-1 advantage by striking out Michael Eberle for the second time to kill the rally. The senior right-hander would allow just one more ISU baserunner from that point, stranding a runner in the eighth after beaning Mike Fitzgerald with a two-out offering.
Missouri State's early rally marked the fourth time in as many games against ISU this season that the Bears were able to build a lead of at least three runs. Unlike the first three games--all Bears' losses--MSU added to its cushion with a late offensive explosion, highlighted by back-to-back pinch hits from Conner Wilson and Trey Hair, each of which drove in two runs to stretch the margin to eight runs.
After ISU's Ryan Keaffaber retired Tate Matheny on a ground ball to begin the inning, eight of the next nine MSU hitters reached safely via a hit, walk or hit-by-pitch. Keaffaber, who worked 4.0 hitless innings of relief prior to the eighth, allowed an Eric Cheray single that plated the first run of the rally. Next, Wilson's bases-loaded double to left-center off Josh Dove made it a 7-1 game and Hair's single to left added two more runs to the Bears' tally.
Patrick Drake singled and scored in each of the Bears' two key rallies, while Hawkins' base hit in the third extended his career-long hit streak to eight games. Additionally, Aaron Meyer scored a pair of runs to eclipse his previous personal best.
Senior right-hander Jake Powers closed out the win with a perfect ninth to help extend the Bears' streak of recording at least one victory at the MVC Championship over 19 consecutive appearances dating back to the 1995 tournament. Schumacher, who tossed a complete-game two-hit shutout of Wichita at the 2012 MVC Championship, improved to 2-0 with an 0.53 ERA over his two career starts at the Valley Tournament.
With the victory, Missouri State advances to another elimination contest Thursday (May 22) morning at 11:37 a.m., against the loser of the Bradley-Dallas Baptist match-up, which will be contested at 6:37 p.m. this evening.