Bears Rally for 9-5 Victory, Series Sweep of Sycamores
SPRINGFIELD -- The Missouri State Bears sent their three seniors out on top in their final home game at Killian Stadium, scoring five times in the bottom of the fifth inning to pull out a 9-5 victory over Indiana State Sunday afternoon. With the win, the Bears completed a three-game sweep of the Sycamores and improved to 12-10 in Missouri Valley Conference play and 17-28 overall with just three games remaining in the regular season.
Two of MSU's seniors played key roles in the victory, as Bubba Weiss went 2-for-3 with a pair of two-out RBIs, and Lauren McGinley recorded 10 straight outs from the second through the fifth innings to give the Bears time to build a three-run lead.
Missouri State also got big games from juniors Christa Gammon, Ashley Knehans and Tyler Porter. Gammon went 3-for-4 with an RBI, while Knehans also had three hits in four trips to the plate and scored a pair of runs. Porter, meanwhile, went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. For the series, Gammon and Porter combined for 13 hits in 21 at-bats to lead a resurgent Bears offense that pounded Indiana State pitching for 22 runs on 36 hits over the three-game stretch.
The Bears jumped on the Sycamores right out of the gate, scoring three times in the bottom of the first inning. Gammon started the inning with a lead-off single up the middle, and Tyler Porter beat out a grounder to shortstop to set up the rally. After Jenna Schwark bounced into a force play at third, Caitlin Chapin drew a walk to load the bases. Next, Knehans hit a sharp grounder to third, where Kellie Szablewski fielded the ball and fired home to try and force Porter, but catcher Alex Lucas couldn't hold onto the throw, giving the Bears a 1-0 lead. Alaina Burkhart's ground ball to second produced another run, and Weiss lined a solid single through the left side of the infield to drive in Schwark with MSU's third tally of the frame.
Indiana State answered right back with a run of its own in the top of the second on Szablewski's RBI single up the middle. McGinley avoided further damage by coaxing a 1-2-3 double-play off the bat of Alyssa Doyle to end the inning.
MSU added another run in the third inning on Weiss's two-out double that chased home Knehans, and McGinley would turn in back-to-back one-two-three innings in the third and fourth frames. The right-hander retired the first two ISU hitters in the fifth before running into trouble and allowing a pair of hits and a walk to load the bases.
ISU's Bailey Wittenauer greeted reliever Natalie Rose by sending a 2-0 pitch over the wall in left-center for a momentum-turning grand slam and a 5-4 Sycamore advantage.
Missouri State responded in the bottom of the inning with five runs to swing the tide back in favor of the home team one final time. After Chapin singled and Knehans doubled to start the inning, Burkhart drew a walk to load the bases. ISU's Meagan McCurdy fanned Weiss to record the first out of the frame, but Stevie Pierce's pinch-single off the wall in straight-away centerfield drove in Chapin and Knehans with the tying and go-ahead runs. The Bears also benefitted from a McCurdy throwing error on a fielder's choice grounder from Cutter, as well as back-to-back run-scoring singles from Gammon and Porter to stretch their lead to four runs.
Rose (5-10) slammed the door from that point, allowing just a pair of walks and a single to earn her fifth win of the season.
McCurdy (8-18) shouldered her third loss in the series after striking-out six and giving up 14 hits in a complete-game effort.
The Bears will hit the road for their final MVC series of the regular season with UNI next weekend, beginning with a noon doubleheader Saturday (May 8) at Robinson-Dresser Sports Complex in Cedar Falls, Iowa.