SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Missouri State matched its season high for runs in a game to win a 14-9 shootout with Southern Illinois on Saturday afternoon at Hammons Field. MSU clinched the series with the win.
In a battle of the MVC's top two staff ERAs during conference games, the offenses ruled the day. Missouri State (32-14, 15-2 MVC) drew 12 walks on SIU pitching. The first two walks came around to score to give the Bears a 2-0 lead in the second inning. SIU countered with a Nikola Vasic RBI triple in the third inning to get within 2-1, but MSU put up six runs in the fourth to apparently blow the game open, 8-2.
But the Salukis' offense battled right back with five runs in the top of the fifth. SIU (25-25, 8-9 MVC) collected six hits in the inning and pulled the score within 8-6. Kenton Crawford, Logan Blackfan, Alex Lyon and Austin Ulick all drove in runs in the inning.
Missouri State extended the lead all the way out to 14-6, and the Bears had the bases loaded in the seventh inning, when a base hit could have ended the game by the MVC's 10-run rule; but SIU again battled back in the ninth inning. Entering the ninth trailing 14-7, SIU's first five batters reached base to get within 14-9 with the bases loaded and nobody out, forcing Missouri State to bring in closer Connor Sechler. A line-drive double play and a strikeout ended the game.
"The offense battled all day," SIU head coach Ken Henderson said. "That was one of the better offensive days we've had in a while. We made all kinds of things happen. That's something we can build on if we continue to grind, battle and have approaches like that."
While SIU's offense was outstanding, the pitching staff struggled, walking 12 to allow MSU more runs (14) than hits (13). All of SIU's six pitchers in the game issued at least one walk.
"It's not only the walks; the balls that were hit hard were because we were behind in the count," Henderson said. "We didn't throw first-pitch strikes. If you don't throw strikes, you're not going to have success. That's the story of the game."
The Salukis will try to salvage a game in the series today, with Dylan Givens making his first weekend start for SIU.