PEORIA, Ill. – Ty Buckner pitched a complete-game, one-hitter and Missouri State ended its offensive drought in a big way, securing a key Missouri Valley Conference series win with a 13-2 run-rule victory over the Braves in seven innings Sunday at Dozer Park.
Buckner took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, giving the Missouri State (27-13, 10-2 MVC) offense time to build an 11-run lead. Jeremy Eierman drove in the first four MSU runs, including two on his seventh home run of the season that sparked a five-run, fifth-inning rally. Hunter Steinmetz was the primary cog in the Bears’ offense, going 3-for-4 with a career-best four runs to complement Eierman’s three-hit effort.
Buckner (4-4) was in control throughout the afternoon, retiring the first nine BU (26-11, 8-4 MVC) hitters of the game and allowing only two baserunners through the first five frames. The freshman struck out six and allowed just a sixth-inning triple to Andy Shadid in the first complete-game one-hitter by a Bear since Matt Hall throttled Arkansas in the second game of the 2015 NCAA Fayetteville Super Regional.
The duo of Steinmetz and Eierman struck early and often, combining to plate the game’s first run just minutes into the contest. Steinmetz lashed a Sam Lund (5-2) offering down the left-field line for the first of his two doubles, and Eierman followed with a run-scoring single up the middle to end a 14-inning scoring drought for the Bears.
The same combination would produce again in the third, as Steinmetz ripped another two-bagger with one out, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Eierman’s sacrifice fly to center for a 2-0 MSU lead. The Bears junior shortstop doubled the margin in the fifth, unloading on a 1-0 pitch for his 39th career home run after Steinmetz coaxed a one-out walk from Lund.
MSU, which was shut out on five hits in Saturday’s loss to the Braves, broke the game wide open with some help from the Bradley defense. Three BU defensive miscues would open the floodgates for the Bears’, who scored seven unearned runs over a two-inning stretch to push their lead into double-digits. A bases-loaded walk to John Privitera forced home the third run of the inning, before a two-out throwing error allowed two more Bears to score.
In the sixth, a two-out bouncer to third was ruled an error, bringing in both Eierman and Drew Millas. Matt Brown made the Braves pay further with a two-run homer to keep pace with Eierman for the team lead in that department.
After a leadoff walk to Nick McMurray in the home half of the sixth, Shadid lined a run-scoring triple to right-center to give the Braves their first hit. Andrew Ivelia then brought Shadid home with a ground ball to first to cut the Bears’ lead to 11-2.
But the Bears responded with a two-run seventh to invoke the conference’s 10-run rule. Jordan Fitzpatrick led off the inning with a double—his team-leading fifth pinch hit of the year—and Steinmetz drove an RBI single to center. Ben Whetstone‘s double to right chased Steinmetz home, and Buckner worked his fifth 1-2-3 inning in the seventh to close out MSU’s 28th MVC win in its last 31 league games.
In addition to the three-hit performances of Steinmetz and Eierman, Whetstone contributed with a 2-for-5 effort, while Brown reached base safely in three of his four trips to the plate, scoring twice and driving in two runs.
Missouri State returns to Hammons Field for its final non-conference midweek contest of the season Wednesday (May 2) evening for a 6:30 p.m. game against Kansas.