Trey Massenberg's two-out single in the bottom of the 10th inning capped a late Missouri State rally against Northwestern that handed the Bears a 2-1 victory in their 2013 home opener Friday afternoon at Hammons Field. The Bears got seven shutout innings from starting pitcher Nick Petree, and Luke Voit went 2-for-5 with a key steal moments before scoring the deciding run to lead the MSU attack.
MSU took advantage of a pair of Wildcat errors in the final two innings to overcome a 1-0, ninth-inning deficit and claim the first game of the two clubs' three-game series. The Bears' decisive rally began courtesy of a fielding error on Voit's one-out bouncer to third against NU's third pitcher of the day, Jack Quigley. A Koby Peebles strikeout temporarily slowed MSU's momentum, but Voit took second on a delayed steal, and Massenberg - who scored the tying run in the previous inning -- lined a 1-1 pitch into left-center field for his first hit in two weeks to lift the Bears to victory.
Massenberg's heroics followed a dramatic ninth-inning comeback that began with MSU pinch hitter Conor Smith driving an 0-2 pitch into right field for a base hit. Dylan Becker followed with a liner back to the mound for an infield hit, and NU pitcher Kyle Ruchim threw wildly to first to move both baserunners into scoring position. Next, an intentional walk to Eric Cheray loaded the bases - a move that backfired when Ruchim walked Joey Hawkins on a full-count offering to force home Massenberg with the equalizing run.
But Ruchim recovered to keep the potential winning run at third, retiring Tate Matheny on a pop-foul to first and Travis McComack on a ground ball back to the mound to end the threat.
Bears' reliever Grant Gordon (1-0) had a few tricks up his sleeve as well, entering the fray in the top of the 10th after the Wildcats had already put their first three hitters on base thanks to a pair of singles and a hit batsman. Gordon promptly rolled a pair of ground balls to force runners at the plate before ending the inning with a grounder to short.
The Bears' comeback spoiled a strong outing from Northwestern right-hander Zach Morton, who worked 7 2/3 scoreless innings, scattering six hits while striking out six Bears.
Petree was equally as effective for MSU, shutting down the Wildcat offense on five hits and a pair of walks while fanning a season-high eight batters in his seven innings of work. The duo engaged in a classic pitcher's duel, as each club generated several scoring opportunities in the early stages of the game, only to watch the staff aces squash rallies at every turn.
Northwestern, in particular, generated scoring chance after scoring chance over the first six innings, but Petree found a way out of trouble in each instance. The Wildcats put multiple baserunners on in the first, third, fifth and sixth innings, but the junior right-hander was able to keep the game scoreless by ending three of those threats with key strikeouts. In all, he would strand eight NU baserunners before turning in his first one-two-three inning in his seventh and final frame.
The Wildcats finally broke the scoring seal in the eighth, capitalizing on a Jack Havey lead-off double against reliever Erik Shannahan to claim a 1-0 edge. After Jack Mitchell fanned for the fourth time in the game for the first out, Colby Everett drove home Havey with the first run of the day on a fielder's choice bouncer to third. Shannahan kept it a one-run affair by striking out Luke Dauch and getting Jack Livingston on a ground ball to short that ended the inning.
Morton (3-for-4) was deadly at the plate as well, combining with Havey to go 6-for-9 to lead the Wildcat offense.
In addition to Voit's two-hit day, Matheny extended his personal hit streak to nine games with a 2-for-5 effort.