March 18, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - The Missouri State Bears continued a string of dominant pitching performances Sunday, riding 7 2/3 innings of two-hit ball by junior right-hander Clay Murphy to outlast Oral Roberts, 3-2, at Hammons Field. Murphy struck-out a season-high 10 hitters, as MSU claimed the series with its third-straight victory over ORU.
Sunday's effort wrapped up a banner weekend for the Bears' pitching staff, which allowed just six runs while striking-out 41 Golden Eagles over 35.0 innings in the four-game series. Murphy (3-1) retired 20 of the first 22 hitters of the contest and took a no-hitter into the fifth inning to extend the Missouri State staff's streak to 18 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings versus ORU.
Unlike the first three games of the series, the Bears wasted little time in jumping on top Sunday. Spiker Helms singled with two out in the bottom of the first, and Luke Voit lined a double into the gap in left-center to chase him home with the game's first run.
Missouri State struck again in the third, taking advantage of two Golden Eagle fielding miscues to stretch its lead to 3-0. Keenen Maddox started the rally with a liner into center that Kevin Cho misplayed into a two-base error. Following a Dylan Becker strikeout, Kevin Medrano's bouncer to second skidded off the glove of Cam Schiller for another ORU error, giving Maddox ample time to trot home. Voit kept the inning alive by drawing a two-out walk after a Helms fly out, and Brock Chaffin made the visitors pay, drilling an Alex Gonzalez offering into right for a run-scoring single and a three-run cushion for Murphy.
Murphy held the Golden Eagles hitless until the fifth, when lead-off man Jose Trevino belted a 1-2 offering over the wall in left to snap ORU's string of scoreless innings in the series. The freshman third baseman would come back to haunt Murphy again in the seventh, launching another homer--this time into the Bears' bullpen in left-center--to pull the Golden Eagles to within one run.
But Murphy fanned Nate Goro to end the seventh and sat down the first two batters in the eighth before issuing a walk to Tyler Coker that ended his day. Freshman right-hander Zach Merciez entered in relief and worked out of a two-on, two-out jam by coaxing a ground ball to second off the bat of Cho to thwart the ORU scoring threat.
The Golden Eagles (9-10) never threatened again, as Merciez retired Schiller on a liner to short on the first pitch of the ninth, and junior right-hander Erik Shannahan got Jared Schlehuber looking and Trevino on a one-hopper to third to wrap up the victory and his first save as a Bear.
Gonzalez (1-1) pitched admirable for the Golden Eagles in defeat, allowing just one earned run on five hits over 7 1/3 innings.
Up next, the Bears (15-6) travel to Cape Girardeau for a 4 p.m. contest Tuesday (March 20) against SEMO. Missouri State then returns home Friday (March 23) to begin Missouri Valley Conference play with a three-game series against defending league champ Creighton.