March 29, 2013
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - One of the most highly-anticipated pitching match-ups of the 2013 season lived up to its advance billing Friday, as Missouri State's Nick Petree outdueled Indiana State's Sean Manaea with a complete-game, two-hit shutout to lift the Bears to a 3-0 victory over the Sycamores to open Missouri Valley Conference play at Hammons Field.
Petree fanned a season-high 10 batters and allowed just four ISU baserunners on the afternoon to hand MSU (16-6, 1-0 MVC) its eighth-consecutive victory in a Valley opener and its seventh home win in eight games this season. The junior right-hander was in control throughout the day, yielding just a one-out single to Casey McCurdy in the second and a base hit by Koby Kraemer to lead off the seventh. Petree allowed only two runners to reach scoring position and ended each inning in which the Sycamores (11-9, 3-1 MVC) put a man on base with a strikeout.
With Petree in command on the hill, the Bears got key performances from their two hottest hitters in Tate Matheny and Koby Peebles to break up the scoreless duel midway through the contest. With one out in the fifth, Travis McComack walked, and Joey Hawkins laid down a bunt single to set up the Bears' first real scoring threat of the game. Matheny, who finished 2-for-4 at the plate and extended his hit streak to nine games, came up with the biggest offensive blow of the afternoon with two out and runners on second and third, beating out a bouncer to short for a run-scoring, infield single that gave Petree and the Bears all the run support they would need.
After extending his streak of consecutive hits to eight straight in the second inning, Peebles delivered again in the eighth with a line drive through the right side of the ISU infield to plate Keenen Maddox, who doubled to start MSU's two-run rally. Pinch hitter Matt Dezort followed with a ground ball to first that drove in Luke Voit for a 3-0 MSU cushion.
That would be more than enough for Petree, who closed the door on the Sycamores by retiring the final eight batters in order to lock down his second shutout as a Bear and the 23rd win of his MSU career, which moved him into a three-way tie with Dave Dickensheet and Jeff Gray for third on the Bears' all-time victories list.
Considered one of the top professional prospects in the nation, Manaea (3-2) held up his end of the bargain as well. The left-hander struck out the first two hitters of the game and held the Bears to just two hits through four innings. He would finish with five strikeouts and allow all three MSU runs on six hits and three walks over 7 1/3 innings.
In addition to big games from Matheny and Peebles, the Bears capitalized on a strong all-around performance from Voit, who doubled, walked twice and scored a run while calling his 13th shutout behind the plate over the last two seasons for the Bears.
The win marked the second-straight shutout on opening day of conference play for the Bears, following on the heels of Pierce Johnson's 16-strikeout performance in a five-hit, 3-0 whitewash of Creighton on March 23, 2012.
Next, the Bears' three-game series with the Sycamores concludes with single games Saturday (2 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.) at Hammons Field.