Dallas Baptist Ends Bears' MVC Tourney Run With Early Offensive Outburst
 
Tate Matheny
 
Tate Matheny
 

May 23, 2014

Box Score

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Missouri State rallied for two runs in the top of the 10th inning to claim a 5-3 victory and force a deciding game against Dallas Baptist at the Missouri Valley Conference Baseball Championship. But the Patriots gashed MSU pitching for seven first-inning runs and cruised to a 9-4 win to earn the right to earn the right to play Illinois State for the Valley title and the MVC's automatic NCAA bid Saturday night at Bob Warn Field.

Trey Hair drove in the go-ahead run in the opener with a two-out single in the top of the 10th, then scored from third on a wild pitch to help the Bears overcome a late DBU rally that erased a 3-1 MSU lead in the home half of the ninth inning. Jake Powers (4-5) retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning, setting up an MSU-record ninth game of the season with the Patriots.

But Dallas Baptist (39-19) extinguished any hopes the Bears had of extending their stay in Terre Haute early in the second game, striking for eight consecutive hits in the first inning en route to building an insurmountable 7-0 lead. Mike Wesolowski's one-out single off MSU starter Sam Perez (3-1) started the deciding onslaught, which was highlighted by two-run hits by Camden Duzenack and Nash Knight.

DBU starter Drew Smith held the Bears at arm's length over the first 5 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on three hits. Eric Cheray's two-run homer in the second put the Bears on the board, and MSU appeared to be poised for a big fifth inning after putting its first three batters aboard. But Spencer Johnson was gunned attempting to go from first to third on Aaron Meyer's RBI single to right, and Smith retired the next two batters on fly balls to derail the MSU threat.

 

 

Forced into early service in the wake of DBU's first-inning charge, Bears reliever Matt Hall turned in one of his best outings of the season. The sophomore lefty limited the Patriots to three hits while fanning a season-high eight hitters over 5 2/3 shutout innings to prevent MSU from falling further behind.

But KJ Alexander's two-run blast over the left-field wall with two out in the seventh stretched the margin back to six runs. DBU reliever Josh Urban followed up Smith's 5 2/3 inning effort by limiting the Bears to an eighth-inning tally on a Patrick Drake run-scoring single. Urban worked the final 3.1 innings to wrap up his second save of the season and the Patriots' seventh win over the Bears, who finished the 2014 campaign with a 26-31 overall record.

Justin Wall led the Patriots' 13-hit parade, while Wesolowski, Alexander and Daniel Salters each contributed two hits in the game two victory.

Tate Matheny paced the Bears with two hits and a run scored in five trips to the plate after becoming the first Bear to draw four walks in a game since 2009 in Friday's first game.

Game one stood in stark contrast to the deciding contest, with both clubs battling down to the wire in a manner consistent with how the first seven games of the season series had been contested. After scoring a total of 10 runs from the seventh inning on in their two most-recent tournament games, the Bears were presented with an early scoring opportunity for a change Friday. DBU starter Cory Taylor struggled out of the game, issuing walks to four of the first five batters to hand MSU an early 1-0 lead. Drake's four-pitch free pass forced home Trey Massenberg, who walked to begin the game.

Taylor righted the ship, however, coming up with back-to-back strikeouts of Cheray and Johnson to strand the bases full of Bears and keep it a one-run game. The Patriots right-hander would fan two more Bears to start a 1-2-3 second and another in the third after DBU pulled even against MSU starter Jon Harris on R.J. Talamantes' squeeze bunt in the home half of the second.

MSU threatened again in the third thanks to Taylor's fifth and sixth walks of the day. Matheny drew his second base on balls of the game, swiped second and advanced to third when Salters' throw skipped past the second-base bag. Taylor dealt another walk to Drake to put runners on the corners, but induced an inning-ending ground ball from Cheray.

Taylor and Harris would combine to keep the game even until the top of the seventh, when Massenberg dropped a bunt single down the third-base line and stole second to spark a Missouri State rally. Joey Hawkins' second sacrifice of the day--and the 33rd of his MSU career--moved Massenberg to third, before Dylan Becker's chopper to second brought him home with the go-ahead tally.

MSU appeared to add a key insurance run the following inning when Johnson drew a two-out walk, moved into scoring position on a Sean Stutzman wild pitch and scored on Meyer's single through the left side of the infield that gave the Bears a two-run cushion.

Harris kept DBU at bay into the eighth, retiring five straight hitters after a wild pitch on a swinging third strike to David Martinelli started the seventh. After getting back-to-back ground balls to shortstop to begin the eighth, Harris issued just his second walk of the game to Salters, prompting the Bears to make a pitching change. Jake Powers promptly ended the threat, forcing a pop-foul to third from Austin Listi to send the game to the ninth with MSU on top, 3-1.

Harris, who turned in his third shutdown performance of the season against the Patriots, finished the day with six strikeouts while allowing just one run on four hits in his 7 2/3 innings. In his three starts versus DBU, the sophomore right-hander recorded 21 strikeouts and allowed just three earned runs on 10 hits over 23.2 innings pitched.

But the Patriots would rally, using back-to-back singles from Wall and Martinelli to start set up a late comeback. Powers pitched the Bears to within one strike of victory, as Meyer turned a 4-3 double play on Talamantes chopper up the middle. After Duzenack's RBI double to left-center drove in Wall and kept the rally alive, Powers worked a 3-2 count to Knight, before the DBU third baseman drove a line-drive single to right to bring in the tying run.

Powers struck out Wesolowski to strand the potential winning run at second and send the game to the 10th, where Cheray's one-out walk set the game-winning rally in motion. Johnson sacrificed Cheray into scoring position before Hair lined a 3-1 pitch from Joseph Shaw into right-center to plate the go-ahead run. Hair was awarded two bases to move to third on a throwing error, which would prove critical moments later when Shaw unleashed a wild pitch to put MSU on top, 5-3.

Handed the lead, Powers (4-5) slammed the door on the Patriots in the home half, as the senior right-hander sat down three straight to wrap up his second mound victory in as many days and the Bears' third consecutive win since dropping a 10-inning decision to DBU on Tuesday.

MSU drew a season-high 12 walks to offset an offensive attack that produced just five hits in the victory. Massenberg keyed the Bears' offense, going 1-for-4 with a walk, two runs scored and a pair of steals.

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