MT. PLEASANT, Mich. –
It was a tale of two games for Missouri State Friday in a doubleheader split with Central Michigan at Theunissen Stadium, as the Bears pounded out a season-high 18 hits in a 12-1 opening-game win, before squandering a series of scoring opportunities in a 2-1 setback in the nightcap, thanks in large part to the pitching of CMU left-hander Tyler Hankins.
spearheaded the Missouri State offense in both contests, finishing the day 6-for-9 at the plate with three runs scored and a pair of RBIs. The Bears (15-7) also received multi-hit performances from Jeremy Eierman
and Aaron Meyer
in each game, as well as strong outings from starting pitchers Jordan Knutson
and Dylan Coleman
Knutson scattered five hits over his 7.0 innings en route to picking up his fourth win of the season, before Coleman fanned seven and allowed just one run on four hits in his 6 1/3 frames in game two. In all, MSU pitching yielded just three runs on 12 total hits in the two games.
Game 1 – Missouri State 12, Central Michigan 1
Nine different Bears recorded at least one hit as part of a season-high 18-hit attack, including three-hit games from Burger, Eierman and Meyer. MSU scored in five different innings, including a three-run rally in the third and two more tallies in the fourth that staked Knutson (4-1) to all the offensive support he would need.
The first of Burger's two RBI singles opened the scoring in the third, before a Chippewa error and an Eierman base hit plated two more MSU runs. Another defensive miscue and a passed ball allowed a pair of Bear runners to score in the following inning, after walks to John Privitera
and Hunter Steinmetz
set the table.
A Landan Ruff
double—the first of his career-high two hits in the game—started a sixth-inning scoring threat that would ultimately make it a 6-0 game on Burger's second run-producing hit.
Knutson limited the Chippewas to one run on five hits over his 7.0 innings, striking out three and walking three in his third consecutive seven-inning outing. The left-hander, who blanked Central Michigan for 7 2/3 innings last season, ran his streak of consecutive scoreless frames vs. the Chippewas to 14.1 in a row before a two-out double in the seventh handed CMU its lone run of the game.
MSU would break the game wide open with six more runs in the late innings, including a five-run eighth in which the Bears gashed the Chippewas for five hits while sending 10 batters to the plate. A walk to Burger ignited the rally, before Meyer's one-out single plated two and Drew Millas
's fielder's choice bouncer chased home Eierman for a 10-0 margin. Ruff added a run-scoring single, and Alex Jefferson
capped the scoring with an RBI grounder to second.
Dazon Cole (1-4) suffered the loss for CMU after allowing five runs on six hits over his 5.0 innings of work. Daniel Jipping led the Chippewa offense with a pair of hits and a stolen base.
Game 2 – Central Michigan 2, Missouri State 1
Colton Bradley accomplished the rare feat of scoring the game-winning run to seal his own mound victory, as Robert Greenman's suicide squeeze in the bottom of the ninth inning brought the CMU closer home from third to hand the Chippewas (9-13) the win in a hard-fought pitcher's duel.
The Bears out-hit the Chippewas by a 9-6 margin, but Hankins and Bradley (3-0) delivered in the clutch by stranding the potential go-ahead MSU baserunner in scoring position in five different innings.
Hankins struck out eight batters and held the Bears to one run over 8 1/3 innings, before Bradley recorded two big outs to squash the Bears' ninth-inning threat and put the Chippewas in position for the walkoff win.
Eierman's leadoff triple to open the ninth gave MSU its best opportunity to forge ahead. But Hankins coaxed a grounder to first against a drawn-in infield, and Bradley escaped the jam unscathed when first baseman Evan Kratt cut down Eierman at the plate and Ben Whetstone
rolled out to second for the final out of the inning.
In the home half of the ninth, pinch hitter David Cole guided a seeing-eye single up the middle, then moved all the way to third on a pair of Jake Fromson
(2-2) wild pitches. With one out, Greenman's bunt gave Bradley — pinch running for Cole — just enough time to slide home with the game-clinching run.
The Bears battled back from a 1-0 deficit with yet another sixth-inning rally, as Burger doubled with one out and Eierman singled the All-American home. MSU recorded at least one hit in each of the first six innings, but left men in scoring position in the first, fourth, fifth, sixth and ninth innings.
With the loss, Missouri State dropped to 0-5 in one-run contests on the year.
With inclement weather looming in the forecast, the Bears and Chippewas are now scheduled to conclude their series with a Noon (CDT) contest Sunday (March 26), weather permitting.