Early offense carries Bears in over Jayhawks, 12-2

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Missouri State erupted for six runs in the second inning of its non-conference matchup with Kansas en route to a 12-2 road victory over the Jayhawks Tuesday evening at Hoglund Ballpark. The Bears pounded out 12 hits to extend their win streak to six games, claiming MSU’s 10th win in its last 13 overall meetings with KU.

The top three hitters in the Missouri State batting order did most of the damage, combining to go 5-for-12 with eight runs batted-in. Jeremy Eierman reached base safely in five of his six trips to the plate, going 2-for-4 with a pair of walks, three RBIs and two steals, while Hunter Steinmetz added two hits and two RBIs and Drew Millas drove in three runs.

MSU (17-6) took command with its biggest inning of the season against KU starter Jon Hander (0-1) in the second, as Jack Duffy‘s leadoff double started an onslaught that would see seven different Bears record hits in the six-run outburst. Brooks Zimmerman opened the scoring with a run-scoring single, before Jordan Fitzpatrick doubled to put a pair of Bears in scoring position. The first of John Privitera‘s three walks in the game loaded the bases, and Steinmetz lined a single through the right side to double the MSU lead to 2-0.

Hander and the Jayhawks appeared to be poised to escape the inning without further damage when third baseman David Kyriacou fielded Eierman’s chopper and threw to second for the front end of a would-be 5-4-3 double play. But the relay throw to first was wide of the bag, allowing two more MSU runs to cross the plate. Millas made KU (15-10) pay, driving a run-scoring triple to left-center, before Ben Whetstone capped the rally with an RBI single for a 6-0 cushion.

Bears starter Austin Knight (1-0) needed little else from that point, holding KU in check throughout his 7.0 innings, scattering three hits and giving up only single tallies in the fourth and seventh frames. The senior walked four and fanned four in picking up his first victory of the season.

The Bears tacked on a run in the fourth, using another Steinmetz single to set up another threat. The junior centerfielder swiped second and moved to third on a wild pitch, before Millas brought him home with a grounder to short for a seven-run MSU lead.

MSU broke the game wide open with another big inning in the fifth, taking advantage of a KU throwing error to push four more runs home. Privitera drew a bases-loaded walk and Stienmetz plated another run with a sacrifice fly to center, before Eierman’s fly ball to center fell in untouched for a two-run triple that stretched the Bears’ lead to 11-1.

Millas drove home his third run of the game with a sac fly in the seventh, bringing in Matt Brown after the senior third baseman was hit by a pitch for the second straight at-bat to start the inning.

After Kyriacou homered off Knight in the home half of the seventh, Davis Schwab and Jake Lochner each worked a scoreless inning of relief to finish off the Bears’ seventh win in their last nine overall games at Hoglund Ballpark.

In addition to big nights from the top three hitters in its lineup, MSU also got a lift from Duffy and Whetstone, who each logged matching 2-for-5 efforts.

Missouri State opens Missouri Valley Conference play Friday (March 30) at 5:30 p.m. (CDT) in Terre Haute, where they will take on Indiana State in a three-game set.