Bears Score Early, Hold Off Panthers to Claim 'Battle For Bell'
Sept. 29, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - While the story of the night at Hammons Field was that of two cross-town rivals coming together for the first time for a common cause, a crowd of 3,753 also saw Missouri State hold off Drury on the diamond to claim a 4-2 victory in the "Battle For Bell" Saturday. The Bears scored all four of their runs in the first two innings, then relied on a strong effort from their bullpen to earn the win in their first baseball meeting with the Panthers.
Saturday's benefit contest to assist former MSU shortstop and Glendale High School head coach Howard Bell in his fight against Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis brought out the Bears' largest home crowd since May 2, 2006. Bell, a three-year letterwinner for the Bears from 1984-86, was diagnosed with ALS--commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease--in December.
On the field, it was the Missouri State pitching staff doing the heavy lifting, as senior right-hander Cody Schumacher worked three scoreless innings to lead the Bears' relief charge. Senior shortstop Travis McComack paced the MSU offense by reaching base in all four trips to the plate, scoring two runs and driving in another.
Drury took advantage of a touch of wildness from 2012 Louisville Slugger Division I National Player of the Year Nick Petree to grab a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Colton Jones led off the game with a bloop single to center, then moved over to third on back-to-back wild pitches before Brett Neill delivered a run-scoring grounder to second. Petree would go on to fan four Panthers over his two innings of work, allowing just the one run on one hit.
The Bears wasted no time in answering the Panthers' early tally, striking for a pair of runs in their half of the first to claim the upper hand. Dylan Becker kick-started a two-run rally with a lead-off single to center, beginning a parade of four straight Bears to reach base against DU starter Will Landscheft. McComack drew a walk, and Keenen Maddox and Koby Peebles followed with back-to-back base hits to produce MSU's first run of the night. After Spencer Johnson went down swinging for the second out, a Landscheft wild pitch allowed McComack to come home with the go-ahead run.
MSU added to its lead the following inning with what would prove to be a critical two-out rally. After Joey Hawkins bounced into a double play, Becker started things off again, this time by coaxing a base-on-balls from Austin Faulconer. McComack would make the Panthers pay by driving a triple into right-center field to chase home Becker, and Peebles followed up a walk to Maddox with a run-scoring double to stretch the lead to 4-1.
Entering the game in the third inning, Schumacher would hold the Panthers in check with a perfect three-inning stint in relief of Petree. The senior fanned three and retired all nine hitters he faced to keep it a three-run game into the sixth inning.
The Panthers scratched out a run in the top half of the sixth, thanks to singles by Dallas Williams and Scott Chesbro--the first Drury hits since Jones's lead-off hit in the first. A Grant Gordon wild pitch brought Williams in to slice the MSU lead to 4-2, but Gordon got Nick Thimesch and Brett Neill on ground balls to avoid further damage.
The Bears' bullpen held strong from there, getting a one-two-three eighth inning from Erik Shannahan, before 2012 freshman All-American Tyler Burgess closed out the victory with a scoreless ninth. In all, MSU pitchers yielded just three hits and three walks on the night.
McComack finished the night 2-for-2 with a pair of walks, and Peebles added two hits and two RBIs for MSU.
Drury also benefitted from a standout bullpen performance, as four Panther hurlers combined to hold the Bears scoreless over the final six innings.
The Bears continue their 2012 fall campaign Monday (Oct. 1) afternoon with a 3:30 p.m. exhibition contest against the Ontario Blue Jays.