Missouri State used an early offensive barrage and a complete-game effort from Nick Petree to halt its six-game losing streak with a 6-1 victory over Wright State Friday afternoon at Hammons Field. The Bears (28-18) pounded out 11 of their 13 hits in the first five innings to build a five-run cushion, then turned to their junior ace, who posted his fourth-consecutive double-digit strikeout total in keeping his perfect home-field record intact.
Petree (8-1) fanned 10 Raiders while allowing just three hits -- none after the fourth inning -- to improve to 12-0 in 18 appearances as a Bear at Hammons Field. The right-hander equaled Pierce Johnson's MSU record of four-straight double-digit strikeout efforts and became the first pitcher in school history to top the 100-strikeout barrier in consecutive seasons.
With Petree in control on the mound throughout the day, the Bears offense snapped out of a recent dry spell with its best collective effort in two weeks. Tate Matheny led the Bears' 13-hit attack with a 4-for-5 day at the plate to match his career high for hits in a single game, and Spencer Johnson drove in two runs with a pair of hits and reached base in three of his four trips to the plate. Luke Voit and Conor Smith also tallied two-hit games and drove in a run apiece to help the Bears end their longest losing skid in three years.
Held to four runs over their last 32 innings of play, the Bears got the ball rolling right away against WSU starter Casey Henn, striking for a pair of first-inning runs to take their first lead of any kind in more than three games. Matheny started things off with a one-out, infield-single after fouling off four-consecutive two-strike pitches from Henn. Keenen Maddox drove the next pitch through the right side of the Raider infield, and a double steal moved both baserunners into scoring position before Voit's ground ball to second brought in Matheny for a 1-0 MSU lead. Next, Johnson came through with a two-out liner that got over the head of Kieston Greene in right for a run-scoring double.
MSU went back to work in the third, as Matheny kick-started another rally with a lead-off double to left-center. After Maddox reached via a hit-by-pitch and Voit singled to load the bases, the Bears appeared poised to blow the game wide open. Johnson drove in his second run of the day with a base hit to right to put MSU up 3-0, but Henn coaxed a ground ball to first from Dylan Becker that the Raiders turned into a 3-2-3 double-play. Henn escaped without further damage by getting Smith to bounce out to third for the final out of the inning.
Wright State (20-25) used a lead-off double of its own to put its lone run of the game on the board in the fourth. Garrett Gray snapped Petree's string of six consecutive batters retired with a gap shot into right-center for the second of his two hits on the day, and Jeff Limbaugh drove him home with a two-out single over the head of Eric Cheray at second to cut the MSU lead to 3-1.
The bottom half of the Bears' order came through in the fifth, as Missouri State broke the game open with three runs to cap the scoring. Voit's line-drive double to left set the table for MSU, which got a one-out walk to Becker before Smith's base hit plated a run and put runners on the corners. Next, No. 8 hitter Travis McComack brought in Becker with a squeeze bunt, before Joey Hawkins delivered a two-out, RBI-single to right to stretch the margin to five runs.
That would be more than enough for Petree, who cruised home by retiring 15 of the final 16 hitters he faced to finish off a 106-pitch effort and his second complete game of the season. The win marked the first for MSU since an April 28 win at Evansville and stopped a five-game home losing streak as well.
Henn (4-7) shouldered the loss for WSU after being touched up for all six MSU runs on 10 hits over 4 1/3 innings. The Raider bullpen delivered 3 2/3 shutout innings, holding the Bears to three hits and a pair of walks.
The Bears and Raiders will meet again Saturday at Noon before concluding their series with a 5 p.m. contest Sunday evening. MSU will recognize its seven seniors Saturday in an on-field pre-game ceremony that is expected to commence at approximately 11:40 a.m.
In honor of giving spring its fair due, we take time out like we did in basketball season to highlight the spring's most improved/surprise/overachieving/under-the-radar/whatever-you-wanna-call-it teams.
As a general rule, this list won't include...
It's that time again…
Every two years MSHSAA reshuffles classes and districts, unintentionally and yet effectively changing the landscape of the sport and this spring was no different.
Here are the changes you will want to note for the boys...
Who do you have going all the way in your bracket? Your 2014-15 high school district basketball bracket, that is.
Last weekend, MSHSAA released classification and district assignments for the next two school years. We saw notable changes in most...