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from an MSU Athletics Press Release
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Led by Tate Matheny's three hits and Koby Peebles's career-high three RBIs, Missouri State pounded out 14 hits in a 10-4 victory in the first game of its doubleheader with Western Illinois Saturday, but fell behind early in the nightcap and never recovered, as the Leathernecks salvaged a split with a 6-3 game two decision at Hammons Field.
Missouri State (13-5) led throughout the first contest, grabbing a 3-0 lead in the second, then breaking the game wide open with six runs over their final two at-bats. Matheny, who finished the day with five hits, three walks, two runs scored and an RBI, went 3-for-4 to lead the Bears' attack, and Peebles added a pair of doubles in driving in three of MSU's runs.
Jon Harris (4-0) got the job done on the mound for the Bears, logging his fourth win in as many starts. The freshman right-hander allowed three runs on five hits while striking out six over a career-high seven innings of work.
The Bears got an early jump on the Leathernecks, scoring three times on three hits in the second inning against WIU starter Riley Perry. Peebles drew a lead-off walk to get things started for MSU before Keenen Maddox lined a base hit through the left side of the WIU infield to put runners at first and second. Next, Dylan Becker laid down a perfect bunt single to load the bases, and Eric Cheray plated the first run of the game with a sacrifice fly to left. A Joey Hawkins bouncer to first drove in Maddox to make it a 2-0 lead, and Matheny beat out a grounder to short to chase home Becker with the Bears' third run of the frame.
Western Illinois (4-13) got one back in the top of the third, manufacturing a run to slice the margin to 3-1. Zach Burling led off with an infield hit, stole second and moved to third on a Neil DeCook sacrifice bunt. Brent Turner then put the Leathernecks on the board with a ground ball to first that gave Burling enough time to trot home with the visitor's first run of the afternoon.
MSU reclaimed its three-run cushion in the fifth, thanks to Peebles's two-out double to right that scored Travis McComack, who started the inning with a double to right-center.
The Leathernecks chipped away at their deficit in the seventh, as Burling delivered a run-scoring single with one out, and Steve Kedroski plated another tally with a ground ball to second.
Harris preserved the 4-3 MSU lead, however, retiring Turner on a line out to second to end the inning.
MSU then went to work in its half of the seventh, using an run-producing grounder from Peebles and an RBI single from Maddox to push the lead to 6-3.
After reliever Grant Gordon held the Leathernecks in check in the top of the eighth, the Bears broke the game open in the home half, scoring four more runs to stretch their advantage to 10-3. Hawkins singled and Matheny walked to set the table, and Voit kicked off a string of three straight run-scoring doubles for MSU. Conner Wilson and Peebles also came through with two-baggers to effectively seal the outcome.
In addition to big performances from Matheny and Peebles, Becker, Maddox and Voit turned in two-hit efforts for MSU.
Burling paced WIU's offense with a 3-for-4 game at the plate while Travis Stafford added two hits.
In game two, the Bears picked up right where they left off in the opener, breaking on top with a pair of runs in the first frame against Leathernecks' starter Tom Constand. The first three MSU hitters of the inning reached base, with Matheny drawing a walk, followed by a base hit from McComack and an RBI single from Voit. A double-play ball off the bat of Conor Smith scored another, but put the brakes on the Bears' rally, as Constand avoided further damage by inducing a come-backer from Spencer Johnson to end the inning.
WIU quickly responded with a two-out rally in the top of the second, taking advantage of a pair of errors on Johnson on a single to right by Burling. After dispatching the first five hitters of the contest without any trouble, MSU starter Tyler Thompsonbeaned Stafford to set up the Leathernecks' rally. Burling lined a base hit in front of Johnson, who mishandled the ball then fired wildly to second, allowing Stafford to score and Burling to move up a base. Thompson stranded the potential tying run at third, however, fanning DeCook for the final out.
But the Leathernecks would take control of the game over the ensuing two innings, striking for two more runs in the third on a two-out JP Maestas single before pushing three critical runs across in the fourth to break a 3-3 tie.
After MSU evened the score in the home half of the third, Tanner Glore's two-run double in the fourth proved to be the key blow in the game, staking WIU to a 5-3 lead. The Leathernecks tacked on another run when Thompson uncorked a wild pitch to bring home Turner with WIU's third tally of the inning.
Three WIU relievers, led by Aaron Michel's (1-0) 3 1/3 inning effort, held the Bears scoreless over the final six innings to hand the Leathernecks the final game of the series. MSU never seriously threatened the lead, recording just one hit after the fifth inning. Alex Doty blanked the Bears over three hitless innings, and Brian Loconsole pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his third save.
Thompson (0-3) suffered the loss for MSU after allowing all six WIU runs (five earned) on eight hits while striking out six over seven innings. Gordon worked the final two frames for the Bears, holding WIU scoreless on just one hit.
Glore led the Leathernecks' resurgence in the second contest, recording hits in three of his four trips to the plate, including the deciding two-run double in the fourth. Burling also added a pair of hits to finish the day 5-for-8 at the dish.
Matheny added two more hits and a pair of walks in the nightcap, while Voit and Maddox each posted their second two-hit games of the day.
Up next, Missouri State will make the trek to Albuquerque, N.M., for a Tuesday (March 19) doubleheader with New Mexico. First pitch from Isotopes Park is slated for 4 p.m. (CDT).
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