March 8, 2013
| at Lipscomb
| Final Score
|| MSU 2, NU 1
| Winning Pitcher
|| Grant Gordon
|| NU 4-3, MSU 8-3
| Next NU Event
|| at Missouri State (Springfield, Mo.), March 9, 2 p.m.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Runs were at a premium Friday in the opener of a three-game series between Northwestern and the Missouri State Bears and it took 10 innings to decide. When it was all said and done, the Bears walked off Hammons Field with a 2-1 victory.
Zach Morton was magnificent on the bump once again for the Wildcats. The fifth-year senior tossed 7.2 innings of scoreless baseball and struck out a season-high six hitters in the process. Morton also lowered his 2013 ERA to a miniscule 0.85 in his third start of the season.
Northwestern's offense began to stir with two outs in the top of the third. Morton lined a single off his counterpart on the hill, Nick Petree, before Jack Havey looped a base hit to right field. Morton moved to third on the play, but the Wildcats could not score when Petree fanned his fifth batter of the game.
Pitching continued to rule the day early on at Hammons Field. Morton did not surrender a hit until Tate Matheny singled up the middle with two outs in the third. Later, with one down in the fourth, Luke Voit doubled for the Bears, but just two pitches later and NU's right-hander was out of trouble and the inning was over.
Missouri State posted its first serious threat of the game in its half of the sixth. The Bears loaded the bases with one out, but Morton got Koby Peebles to ground into a rare double play. Peebles sent a ground ball to Colby Everett, who calmly stepped on third for the second out. Rather than tossing across the diamond to first base, Everett fired home to catcher Jake Straub. Straub applied the necessary tag to Travis McComack and the inning was over with no dents in the scoreboard.
The Wildcats finally pushed across the first run of the ballgame in the top of the eighth. Havey roped a first-pitch double off reliever Erik Shannahan and moved to third on a wild pitch from the submarine-style hurler. The first baseman then scored on a RBI fielder's choice off the bat of Everett. The Bears attempted to cut Havey down at the plate, but a low throw from Joey Hawkins was mishandled by Voit and Havey slid in safely to gain Northwestern a 1-0 advantage.
In the home half of the inning, the Bears collected a two-out double off of Morton and his day was done. At that point, Kyle Ruchim came on in relief and fanned Voit in his first appearance since Feb. 15.
After the Wildcats were unable to add on in their half of the ninth, Ruchim sprinted back out to try and nail down the victory. After a one-out single, the Bears put two runners in scoring position when Ruchim's errant throw off a ground ball was not able to be handled by Havey at first. An intentional walk loaded the bases before Hawkins drew a walk of his own to send home the tying run, which was unearned. Ruchim then got Matheny to pop out to Havey in front of the NU dugout and McComack to eventually ground out to end the threat.
Northwestern started to bother Shannahan again in the top of the 10th. Morton and Havey opened with back-to-back singles before pinch hitter Scott Heelan was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs yet recorded. Shannahan was then lifted in favor of Grant Gordon. Gordon was able to keep the ball in the infield and Missouri State escaped a rather precarious situation with no damage done.
A delayed steal by Voit after Jack Quigley struck out Peebles set up the game-winning run in the bottom of the inning. Voit had reached on an error and Trey Massenberg blooped a single into left field and Voit scored the second unearned tally of the afternoon to give Missouri State a 2-1 triumph.
Morton and Havey combined for six of NU's eight hits in the game. It is the first time this season that either senior notched three hits in a contest. It was the eighth time that Havey had a career-high three knocks in a game. Havey has also reached base safely in all seven games that Northwestern has played this season.
The Wildcats and Bears will reconvene Saturday at 2 p.m. for the second game of the three-game set at Hammons Field. Luke Farrell, who last time out struck out a career-high 12 batters at Lipscomb, will take the ball for Northwestern. Farrell will be opposed by Missouri State right-hander Jon Harris. Harris is 2-0 and is yet to allow an earned run in 2013.
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