Two-Out Runs Lift Bears to Split at Evansville
May 3, 2014
EVANSVILLE, Ind. - The Missouri State softball team (26-26, 9-16) scored 14 of its 15 runs on the day with two outs, but split a doubleheader at Evansville (19-31, 7-18) on Saturday afternoon. The Bears put up their highest run output of the year in a 14-6 game one win, but were snubbed in game two by a 3-1 final. By virtue of Indiana State and Southern Illinois splitting as well, the Bears still hold a one-game lead on the eighth and final spot in next week's MVC Tournament. MSU needs a win or Indiana State loss tomorrow to lock up a spot in the league tournament.
Sophomore Bethany Sullinger had a career-high four hits in game one. She had five hits on the day and drew two walks. Sullinger drove in four runs in game one, giving her 44 RBI on the season, the third-best single season in MSU history. All four RBI came with two outs, upping her league-best total to 28 on the year.
Senior Heather Duckworth had four hits on the day and drove in a team-best five runs. All of her RBI also came with two outs, giving her 22 two-out RBI for the year. She hit her fourth home run of the season, a career high. She scored three runs, all in game one.
Senior Ashley Brentz put her name in the MSU annals with two walks on the day, giving her 76 for her career, tied for fifth in school history. She also hit safely in each game of the doubleheader. Brentz scored twice in game one and stole a base on the day.
Fellow senior Kerri Cunningham also inched up in the Missouri State record books. In game one, she stole her 23rd base of the year, tied for the second-most in a season. Cunningham had three hits on the day and scored a run in each game.
Shortstop Erin Duewel recorded a hit in each game. She scored a run and drove in a run in game one.
Game 1 - Missouri State 14, Evansville 6
With two away in the third inning, Brentz reached on a bunt single. After she stole second, Kerri Cunningham also reached on a bunt single. Cunningham promptly stole second, her 23rd of the year and tied for second-most in a season all-time. Chelsea Jones was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but a questionable check-swing third strike ended the inning.
In the MSU fourth, Heather Duckworth scalded a ball past the shortstop into left-center for a leadoff double. Stacia Boeckstiegel moved her to third with a successful sacrifice bunt. Erin Duewel followed and reached on a bunt single, driving in Duckworth on the play to extend the Bears' lead to 2-0.
The Bears got a two-out rally going in the fifth. Jones was hit by a pitch for the second-straight plate appearance. Sullinger singled to centerfield. Olivia Roark was put in at second to pinch run. Duckworth cleared the bases with a home run to center, her fourth of the season.
The Purple Aces scored a run in the fifth and put two runs on the board in the bottom of the sixth to tighten the game to 5-3.
After two quick outs in the seventh, the Bears broke the game open. Sullinger doubled to the left field corner. Duckworth followed suit with a double to right-center plating Sullinger. Boeckstiegel legged out an infield single with Duckworth crossing the plate on the play. Duewel reached on an error and both moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. Pinch hitter Elena Gambill was intentionally walked to load the bases. Rebecca McPherson reached on a second UE error. Brentz walked for the 75th time in her career to continue the inning. Cunningham followed and drilled a single off the pitcher. A passed ball plated another run for the Bears and Jones was hit with a pitch to reload the bases. Sullinger cleared the bases with a double to right-center. The nine-run inning was the most by the Bears since scoring 10 against IUPUI in March 2010. UE pushed three runs across in the bottom of the seventh, but it was too little, too late as the Bears held on for the 14-6 victory.
Freshman Erin Struemph started and threw 5.1 solid innings. She struck out eight Purple Aces, running her season total to 142.
Game 2 - Missouri State 1, Evansville 3
In the second inning, Duewel singled to right with one out. Two batters later, Ali Trickey drew a walk. Brentz followed and also drew a walk, the 76th of her career, tying her for fifth in school history. All three runners were left on base, though, as the inning ended.
Missouri State again put runners on base in the third. Sullinger drew her second walk of the game with one down. Duckworth was hit by a pitch, chasing the UE starter. The Aces reliever got out of the jam to keep MSU off the board.
With two outs in the fourth, Brentz reached on a bunt single. Cunningham followed and lined a single, but the Bears couldn't break through.
The Purple Aces put up three unearned runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. The damage was limited as Ali Trickey cut down a runner at the plate, one of three outfield assists in the game for the junior.
MSU made a game of it in the seventh inning. Cunningham drew a one-out walk to start the rally. Two batters later, Sullinger singled to center. She was replaced at first by pinch runner Roark. Duckworth then roped a double into the leftfield corner to plate Cunningham. But with two outs, the rally stopped on a nice running catch in foul territory to end the game.
Starting pitcher Chelsea Jones was tagged with the loss, despite not giving up an earned run. She struck out two and walked a pair of Aces.
The Bears conclude the regular season on Sunday at noon against the Purple Aces. MSU needs a win or an Indiana State loss to reach the MVC Tournament in Normal, Ill., next week.