Posted: Sunday, 24 February 2013 3:07PM

Walk-off win for Bears baseball



Hattiesburg, MS (Missouri State Athletics)  -- After letting a two-run lead slip away, the Missouri State Bears used a Koby Peebles RBI double in the bottom of the ninth inning to walk off with a 5-4 victory over Eastern Illinois Sunday at Pete Taylor Park. With the win the Bears completed the Bears completed a three-game sweep of the Southern Miss Invitational field to improve to 5-1 for the first time since 2008.

Four Bears finished with multi-hit games, highlighted by Eric Cheray's 3-for-4 effort that included a key two-run single in the fourth, and Peebles's 2-for-5 day, punctuated by his third game-winning RBI of the season.

After taking a 4-2 lead into the seventh inning, the Bears watched EIU claw its way back into the game with single tallies in the seventh and eighth innings. MSU added to the drama by leaving the bases full in the eighth, after singles by Cheray and Tate Matheny and a walk to Dylan Becker produced a two-out scoring opportunity. Travis McComack worked the count full against Jaden Widdersheim, but waved and missed at a third strike to send the game to the ninth even at 4-4.

The Panthers (2-5) appeared poised to claim the lead in the top of the ninth, when Caleb Howell capped a 10-pitch at-bat against MSU lefty Tyler Burgess with a single to left with two on and one out. But Keenen Maddox threw out the potential go-ahead run at the plate, and Burgess retired Nick Priessman on a fly to right to end the inning.

Maddox then singled against Widdersheim (1-2) to start the Bears' game-clinching rally, moved into scoring position when Luke Voit followed with a line-drive single to left and scored on Peebles's towering drive that landed just beyond the reach of Priessman in deep left-center.

The victory - the Bears' third straight - made a winner of Burgess (2-0), who recorded the final two outs in the ninth for his second victory in as many appearances in 2013.

The late offensive heroics for both clubs followed a strong opening for both starting pitchers, who began the game in top form. The Bears' Tyler Thompson and EIU's Andrew Grahn breezed through the first three innings, with Matheny's one-out single in the third representing the lone hit in the game to that point. Thompson struck out four of the first 10 batters he faced, yielding just a two-out walk in the second.

But the Panthers offense came to life in the fourth, as Treysen Vavra's one-out infield single started a string of four hits in the inning for EIU. Demetre Taylor followed with a base hit to right, but Conor Smith threw out the lead runner at the plate on a squeeze attempt to momentarily slow the EIU rally. The Panthers bounced back to draw first blood, however, as Trey Russell and Tyler Schweigert delivered back-to-back run-scoring singles to put EIU on top, 2-0.

SU wasted little time in responding, as Voiit and Peebles got the ball rolling with one-out singles, and Spencer Johnson drew a walk to load the bases. Cheray lined Grahn's first offering into right to chase home Voit and Peebles, and Conor Smith's fielder's choice bunt brought home Johnson to put the Bears in front, 3-2.

Another Cheray single, coupled with a walk to Conner Wilson set up MSU's next scoring threat in the sixth. With two out, Becker laced a base hit to center, allowing Cheray to score and make it a 4-2 game.

EIU wasn't finished, however, as a Grant Gordon wild pitch on a third strike gave the Panthers a baserunner to lead off the seventh. A balk, a Jacob Reese single and a fielder's choice grounder by Howell brought in the runner to cut the MSU lead in half. The following inning, a lead-off triple by Vavra on a fly to left that Maddox lost in the sun led to the equalizing run, courtesy of Taylor's sac fly to center.

Widdersheim was tagged with the loss after surrendering the winning run on five hits in one inning of relief.

In addition to big offensive days from Cheray and Peebles, the Bears got two-hit performances from Matheny (2-for-3) and Voit (2-for-4) to post a season high for hits (11) for the second straight day.

Vavra led EIU's eight-hit attack with a 2-for-4 effort at the plate.


The Bears are scheduled to travel to Lawrence, Kan., Tuesday (Feb. 26) for a 3 p.m., contest against Kansas, before opening the home portion of their schedule with a three-game set against Northwestern State, beginning Friday (March 1) at Hammons Field.

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