Behind a career performance from freshman pitcher Nate Witherspoon, Missouri State kept its MVC Baseball Championship hopes alive with an 8-6 victory over Illinois State Friday evening at Hammons Field.
The Bears (40-16) took advantage of nine walks handed out by Redbird pitchers over the first two innings to build a 6-0 lead, then held on to seal the win after Illinois State engineered a ninth-inning rally thanks in large part to a trio of MSU errors.
In his first start since April 11, Witherspoon (4-3) allowed just two runs over a personal-best 7.0 innings to help the Bears reach the 40-win plateau for the 11th time. The left-hander scattered six hits, struck out three and worked into the eighth inning before ISU mounted its late charge.
On the heels of a 6-3 win over Wichita State earlier in the day, the Missouri State victory sets up a winner-take-all deciding 2 p.m. (CDT) game with Illinois State (15-39) Saturday (May 27) for a spot in the MVC title game against Dallas Baptist at 6 p.m.
Hunter Steinmetz posted his third-straight multi-hit performance and set the tone from the game’s first at-bat, lacing a base hit through the left side of the ISU infield. After Redbird starter Colton Johnson retired Justin Paulsen on a fly ball, Jake Burger drew the first of three-consecutive walks, the last of which (to Blake Graham) forced home the game’s first run. Alex Jefferson followed with a line single to center to make it a 2-0 game and force an early call to the Redbird bullpen. [Read more…]