Baseball Bears top Creighton in MVC Tourney opener, 9-5
The Missouri State baseball team scored eight unanswered runs in the fourth and fifth innings to turn a 3-1 deficit into a 9-3 lead and moved on to a 9-5 win over Creighton in its State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament opener Thursday at Eck Stadium in Wichita, Kan.
Starter Tim Clubb pitched 7.2 innings for the win, setting a new school record for the best pitching start in history, upping his record to 11-0 in 14 starts. All nine Bears had at least one hit, and six players notched two each as MSU improved to 39-15 on the season. Third-seeded Creighton fell to 36-20.
A leadoff walk and a single put runners on the corners for Creighton with no outs in the first, but Clubb got all-MVC first baseman Darin Ruf to chase a slider for strike three and Steve Winkelmann grounded the next pitch to second to start the 4-6-3 double play and keep CU off the scoreboard.
Ben Woodbury turned around and led off the bottom of the first with a double and Nolan Keane grounded a single up the middle to give the Bears a quick 1-0 lead.
The Bluejays took the lead in the fourth, getting back-to-back one-out singles and a wild pitch before Joe Servais singled both runners home. Servais got the third on an error and a passed ball and scored on a Nick Nordgren single. The Jays got runners to second and third with one out before the inning ended with CU leading 3-1.
MSU answered in the bottom of the fourth. After a Chris Playter leadoff double, Ryan Mantle added his second two-bagger of the game to make the score 3-2. Kyle Paul followed with an RBI single and moved to second on the throw home to tie the game before Curt Courtwright sacrificed him to third. CU reliever Kevin Dooley entered the game and got Woodbury to hit a sac fly that plated Paul for a 4-3 lead.
The Bears tacked on five more in the fifth. With the bases loaded and two outs, Paul lined a single to center to score Josh Mazzola and Ben Carlson, and Courtwright followed with an RBI single to plate Mantle. Woodbury then poked a single through the right side to score Paul and Keane singled in Courtwright to give the Bears a 9-3 lead.
Creighton got an unearned run in the sixth to pull within 9-4, and Robbie Knight drove in Servais with a two-out single in the eighth. Elliot Soto followed that with a single, bringing closer Matt Frevert in from the bullpen after Clubb went 7.2 innings, allowing 11 hits and four earned runs. Frevert got Ruf to ground out on the first pitch and end the eighth with a 9-5 lead.
Frevert then pitched a scoreless ninth for his eighth save of the season.
The Bears play the winner of top-seeded Wichita State and No. 5 Southern Illinois at 3 p.m. Friday. That game will be played at 7 p.m. Thursday.