Bears' Bats Held in Check in 6-1 Loss to Illinois State
May 23, 2013
NORMAL, Ill. - lllinois State used a four-run rally and standout pitching from Dan Savas to a 6-1 victory over the Missouri State Bears Wednesday evening in round-two action at the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference Baseballl Championship at Duffy Bass Field. The Redbirds scored four times in the bottom of the third to build a 5-0 lead, then let Savas do the rest to earn his 10th victory of the season with a complete-game effort.
Savas, who matched a career high with 12 strikeouts to become the first ISU pitcher in the Division I era to log 10 wins in a season, set the tone for the evening right from the get-go, striking out the side in the first and fanning seven of the first 11 Bears he faced. The Bears' lone hit over the first three frames came from Keenen Maddox, who singled with one out in the second for the 200th hit of his Missouri State career.
But Savas (10-0) worked around that threat by striking out Koby Peebles and Travis McComack, then squashed a potential scoring chance for MSU in the third with two more punchouts after Joey Hawkins drew a lead-off walk.
Meanwhile, the Illinois State offense handed its starter an early lead in the second, as Kyle Stanton led off with a single, moved to second on Mike Hollenbeck's sacrifice and scored on a Paul DeJong two-out double into the gap in right-center. The Redbirds kicked their offense into high gear the following inning, as the first five ISU hitters reached base against Bears starter Jon Harris to build an advantage the Bears could not overcome. Brett Kay started the key rally by drawing a lead-off walk, before Chad Hinshaw reached on a sacrifice attempt that was mishandled by Harris to put runners on first and second. Next, Zac Johnson gave the Redbirds a two-run lead with a single to left, and Eric Aguilera drove a two-run triple over the head of Tate Matheny in center to make it a 4-0 game, and Stanton completed the scoring in the inning with an RBI-double to left.
Despite allowing MSU's lone run of the night in the third, Savas cruised through the rest of the contest to notch his second win of the season over the Bears. Spencer Johnson doubled and came around on an error following a Luke Voit single for an unearned tally, and that was it for the Missouri State offense. The ISU right-hander promptly retired 14 of the next 15 Bear hitters he faced, as MSU would not record another hit until Matheny led off the ninth with a single to right-center.
In all, Savas would allow just one unearned run on four hits while issuing just one walk. Stanton powered the Redbirds' 10-hit attack with a 3-for-4 night at the plate, while Brock Stewart added a pair of hits, and Johnson and Aguilera drove in two runs apiece.
Harris (8-2) was tagged with the loss for MSU, despite a strong start that saw the freshman match Savas's first inning with three strikeouts of his own to open the game. It was downhill from there, however, as ISU touched up the right-hander for five runs on five hits and two walks over the next two frames. The Bears' bullpen provided a lift to keep MSU within striking distance, as Zach Merciez surrendered just one run on two hits over 2 2/3 innings, followed by a combined 2 2/3-scoreless stanzas from Tyler Burgess and Tyler Thompson.
Missouri State (31-22) will try to battle back Thursday (May 23) in an elimination game against Evansville at 12:37 p.m. The winner of that contest will earn a 7:37 p.m. rematch Thursday evening with an Illinois State (38-18) squad that outscored its first two opponents in the tournament by a combined 17-2 margin.