Photo: MSU photo services
Behind an early offensive explosion and six shutout innings from Logan Wiley, Missouri State closed out a three-game Missouri Valley Conference sweep of Evansville with an 11-4 victory Sunday afternoon at Hammons Field.
Wiley (4-3) allowed just three baserunners and struck out a career-best nine hitters, while the Missouri State offense scored early and often to build a nine-run lead by the time the sophomore right-hander’s day was complete.
The Bears (22-7, 5-1 MVC) benefitted from a productive effort from the bottom third of its lineup, as Logan Geha, Landan Ruff and John Privitera combined to reach base in 10 of their 14 plate appearances and score eight of the Bears’ 11 runs. The top third of the order made the Purple Aces pay, with Hunter Steinmetz, Jeremy Eierman and Drew Millas joining forces to drive home all eight of those runs.
Wiley faced few challenges early in the contest, as the sophomore dispatched the first 11 UE hitters of the game in order and allowed just one baserunner through five innings. After a two-out Dalton Horstmeier single in the fourth snapped the string, Wiley responded by setting down seven of the next nine batters to end his afternoon.
Eierman drove in the first three MSU runs of the game, including two on a two-out single in the second that staked Wiley and the Bears to an early 2-0 lead. He contributed to the Bears’ three-run fourth as well, plating another baserunner with a ground ball to third and recording one of four MSU stolen bases—including a steal of home by Privitera—during a rally that was fueled by four walks from UE pitchers.
Matt Brown, who reached base in each of his first three trips to the plate, brought in Eierman with a two-out single of his own to cap the rally. MSU, which tallied eight of its 11 runs with two outs, added to its lead the following inning on Millas’s bases-loaded double to right that cleared the bases for an 8-0 Bears advantage.
The Bears drew two more of their 12 bases-on-balls in the sixth, setting up the first of two consecutive run-producing hits by Steinmetz. The junior outfielder made it a 9-0 game with his line-drive single to right, then doubled home the final MSU run two innings later, after Ben Whetstone belted his fifth home run of the season for MSU in the home half of the seventh.
UE (6-19, 0-3 MVC) touched up the MSU bullpen for a pair of two-run rallies, getting back-to-back hits from Kenton Crews and Tanner Craig as part of a four-hit seventh. The visitors struck for two more in the ninth, before Davis Schwab closed out the Bears’ 10th consecutive home victory.
Millas, who went 6-for-12 with six runs batted-in for the three-game series, notched his second straight multi-hit effort with a 2-for-4 day, while Steinmetz finished with three hits, a walk and two RBIs. Geha powered the bottom third of the order, going 2-for-3 with two doubles, two walks and three runs scored, while Ruff scored a career-high three runs as well.
Next, the Bears continue their season-long seven-game home stand with a Tuesday (April 10) non-conference contest against in-state rival Missouri. First pitch is slated for 6:30 p.m., at Hammons Field.