March 18, 2014
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Six Oklahoma State pitchers combined to hold a struggling Missouri State offense in check Tuesday evening, as the 20th-ranked Cowboys scored three times in the second and never looked back in a 6-0 victory over the Bears at Hammons Field. Led by three scoreless innings from freshman Garrett Williams, OSU held the Bears to three hits in extending MSU's school-record scoreless drought to 41 innings.
Zach Fish's run-scoring double to right-center off MSU starter Clay Murphy initiated the decisive second-inning rally for OSU (15-6), and Saulyer Saxon polished it off with a two-out, two-run homer to left--his first as a Cowboy--to hand his pitching staff all the run support it would need to send the Bears to their seventh consecutive defeat, including their fourth in a row via a shutout.
Williams performed the heavy lifting for the Cowboys relief corps, holding MSU without a hit and retiring the final eight batters he faced in succession as part of a string of 15 in a row set down by OSU pitching. Mark Robinette (1-1) earned the victory in a pre-arranged short start, limiting the Bears to an Eric Cheray single and a Matt Fultz walk with two out in the first in his two innings of work.
The Bears best opportunity to end their scoreless streak came in the third, as Williams walked Matt Dezort, uncorked a wild pitch and issued another base on balls to put runners on the corners with just one out. But the left-hander came up big, striking out both Cheray and Fultz to squash the threat.
From there, Williams, Alex Hackenrott and Blake Battenfield cruised through the middle innings without allowing another MSU baserunner until Dezort drew a one-out walk in the eighth. Vince Wheeland would erase the lone blemish by coaxing a 6-4-3 double-play ball on the first pitch he delivered to Tate Matheny.
OSU tacked on a run in the eighth after the third Cowboy hit batsman of the evening came around to score on Craig McConaughy's two-out single to left. The visitors added two more tallies in the ninth courtesy of Tanner Krietemeier's sixth homer of the season, a two-run bomb that landed on the roof of the Bill Rowe Training Center beyond the right-field wall.
Held to just one single through eight innings, MSU touched up Brendan McCurry for a pair of hits in the ninth when Dylan Becker singled to start the rally and Fultz found the hole on the right side of the infield for a base hit as well.
But McCurry kept the Bears off the board once again, this time getting Trey Massenberg to bounce to third for a fielder's choice, then ending the game with the Cowboys' 10 strikeout of the night.
Saxon (2-for-4) and Krietemeier (2-for-4) each drove in a pair of runs with the round-trippers, while Ryan Sluder added a pair of singles to the Cowboys' eight-hit attack.
Murphy (0-2) suffered his first loss in six career appearances against the Cowboys, despite fanning eight batters and allowing just three runs on five hits over 6.0 innings. Murphy combined with three additional hurlers to strike out a Bears' season-high 12 batters on the night.
The loss for the Bears (8-10) means they will open Missouri Valley Conference play this weekend at Wichita State with their longest losing streak in seven years, dating back to MSU's school-record 14-game slide from April 8-May 15, 2007.
MSU will begin its three-game series with the preseason MVC favorite Shockers at Eck Stadium Friday (March 21) at 5:30 p.m. in a contest that will be televised nationally on ESPNU. The Bears and Shockers will meet again Saturday at 2 p.m. before concluding the series with a 1 p.m. game Sunday.