Bears Sweep DH Versus SIU on Walk-off and Comeback Wins
March 29, 2014
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - The Missouri State softball team (20-10, 3-2) got a walk-off win in game one and came-from-behind to sweep the doubleheader against visiting Southern Illinois (14-15, 3-4) on Saturday afternoon. The Bears walked off with a 3-2 victory to open the three-game weekend series and rallied from behind for a 7-2 win to capture the series in game two.
"We were clutch all day," said head coach Holly Hesse. "The first game was a battle coming down to the last at-bat of the game. Both games were gritty performances by the Bears and we showed a lot of perseverance and heart today coming back from down two runs in game two. Jessie (Van Es) knows her job is to come in and turn things around if it's not going well and she did that twice today to get two wins."
Ashley Brentz set the table all day for the Bears racking up four hits on the day. She drove in a run and scored three times, including the winning run in game one. Brentz also drew two walks to up her team lead in the category to 17 bases on ball this season.
Kerri Cunningham and Bethany Sullinger each contributed three hits in the doubleheader. Cunningham stole two bases on the day giving her 18 for the season, tied for the seventh-most by a player in a single season in MSU history. Sullinger drove in two runs, both with two outs, to extend her league-leading total to 18 two-out RBI on the season.
Sophomore pitcher Jessie Van Es earned the victory in both games with solid performances on the day. She allowed just two hits in four innings of work over the two games.
Game 1 - Missouri State 3, Southern Illinois 2
In the second inning, Stacia Boeckstiegel reached on a fielding error with one down. Rebecca McPherson singled to right sending Boeckstiegel to third. Elena Gambill followed and singled to center plating the run.
The Bears got a single in the third from Brentz. Boeckstiegel singled in the fourth, but neither inning produced additional runs for MSU.
Missouri State's fifth inning looked promising. With one away, Brentz doubled off the wall in right-center. She moved to third on an infield single by Cunningham. Cunningham stole second, but the Bears were not able to get either runner home in the inning.
Heather Duckworth began the sixth with a double down the right field line. Again the Salukis were able to keep MSU off the board.
SIU took advantage in the top of the seventh. After being shut down over the first six innings by MSU starter Erin Struemph, the Salukis got the leadoff batter aboard on a fielding miscue. With one out, SIU got a single and a two-run double to tie the game. Van Es entered the game and put a stop to the SIU rally to keep the game knotted at 2-2.
In the bottom of the seventh, Brentz ripped her second double of the game with one out. Cunningham reached on a beautiful bunt single to put runners at the corners. Jones stepped up and dropped a squeeze bunt with the throw being too late as the Bears earned the walk-off win.
Game 2 - Missouri State 7, Southern Illinois 2
In the third inning, Ali Trickey and Brentz walked back-to-back with one down. But MSU was held off the scoreboard. Missouri State starter Chelsea Jones stranded five SIU runners over the first three innings to keep the game scoreless headed to the fourth.
A leadoff double in the top of the fourth sparked the Salukis to a two-run inning. With two outs and two runners in scoring position, Van Es was summoned from the bullpen. She intentionally walked the first batter she faced to load the bases. On the next pitch, she induced a pop up to get out of trouble.
Missouri State rallied in the fifth. With one out, Gambill singled to center. Trickey followed and blooped a bunt single over the pitcher. Brentz then singled to right to drive home the first run of the inning. Two batters later, Jones walked to load the bases. Sullinger stepped in and drilled a single to center scoring two runs and handing the Bears the lead. Duckworth singled on the infield to reload the bases, but SIU was able to wiggle out of the jam with no further damage.
In the sixth inning, the Bears batted around for the second-straight inning. McPherson doubled off the wall in left-center to start the inning. With two outs in the inning, Brentz walked, her team-best 18th free pass on the year, giving the Bears runners at first and third. Allie Alvstad pinch hit and after Brentz stole second, she scorched a single off the second baseman to plate both runners. Jones followed and flied to right, but the SIU fielder dropped the fly ball and Cunningham came around to score from first. Sullinger walked and Duckworth singled over the first baseman to give MSU a four-run inning.
Van Es recorded her first strikeout of the day and retired the Salukis in order in the seven to complete the sweep.
The Bears will look for the series sweep in the finale against Southern Illinois on Sunday at 12:00 p.m. Next week, Missouri State embarks on a six-game road trip with a single game at Arkansas on Tuesday followed by three games at Drake next weekend and a make-up doubleheader at Loyola on April 7.