Baseball's Comeback Bid Falls Short in 6-4 Loss to Evansville
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Missouri State sent the winning run to the plate three times in the ninth inning and came away with three strikeouts courtesy of Evansville closer Tom Heithoff in a frustrating 6-4 Missouri Valley Conference loss to the Purple Aces Saturday afternoon at Hammons Field in Springfield.
The Bears (8-14, 1-1 MVC) used a three-run homer in the first inning from Luke Voit to gain control early, but the Aces (11-13, 1-1) fought back to tie in the fifth thanks to a two-out error and then took a 6-4 lead in the seventh with a trio of two-out runs. Greg Wallace pulled a two-run single to right and advanced to third on an error on the play before scoring on Cody Fick’s RBI base knock.
The next two innings provided plenty of drama but no runs as the Bears stranded a runner on third in the seventh and left the bases loaded in the eighth, while Evansville had runners on second and third with no out in the eighth and runners on the corners with one out in the ninth and came up scoreless.
The baserunners continued in the MSU half of the ninth as Kevin Medrano opened with a leadoff double and Voit walked. Heithoff battled to strike out Christian Overstreet on nine pitches, fanned Trevor Rogers and had Tyler Ryun down 1-2 in the count before unleashing a wild pitch to move the tying run into scoring position. UE’s closer then completed the strike out of Ryun to end it for his fourth save of the year.
MSU’s Pat Doyle (1-5) cruised through the first three innings, retiring all nine batters he faced on 27 pitches before the Purple Aces got to him in the fourth with an RBI single from Wallace and a Ty Legan sacrifice fly.
The Bears broke a 3-3 tie in the sixth with back-to-back doubles by Beau Stoker and Curt Courtwright to take their final lead at 4-3. Pierce Johnson pitched the final 2.1 frames for MSU in relief of Doyle, allowing no runs.
The series concludes at 1 p.m. Sunday.