Missouri State posted four runs over the first two innings and went on to claim a 4-2 victory over Drury in Saturday night's "Battle For Bell" exhibition in front of 3,753 appreciative fans at Hammons Field.
The contest, the first-ever meeting between the NCAA Division I Bears and NCAA-II Panthers in baseball, was a fundraiser for former Glendale High School baseball coach Howard Bell and his ongoing battle with ALS. Bell was a former baseball standout for then-Southwest Missouri State in the 1980s and a long-time assistant coach under current Drury coachMark Stratton when the two were at GHS.
Drury took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on a leadoff single by Colton Jones, who later came around to score on Brett Neill's RBI groundout off MSU ace Nick Petree, last year's Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Year and a First Team All-America selection.
The Bears countered with two in the bottom of first and second off Drury starter Will Landsheft and reliever Austin Faulconer to grab a 4-1 lead.
From there, pitching for both squads became the story, as Drury managed a run in the sixth off of hits by Dallas Williams and Scott Chesbro and an MSU wild pitch by Grant Gordon that allowed Williams to come home with DU's second run.
The Bears had nine hits on the evening while holding the Panthers to just three.
Drury's bullpen was a bright spot, as Tyler Abma, Tyler VanGerpen, Laurent Zenoni and Ethan Mather combined to limit the Bears to just three hits over five innings, striking out two and walking one.
"While we always hate to lose, I thought it was a great game, and we represented ourselves very well," Stratton said. "That's one of the top D-I programs in the country, and we had our chances, but just couldn't come up with the hits against a very good pitching staff.
"What a fantastic night. We had a great crowd that got to see a competitive game on a beautiful evening in a beautiful park, and all for a wonderful cause, raising money for our great friend Howard Bell and his family."