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    Northwestern's Comeback Efforts Fall Short at Missouri State

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Kyle Ruchim picked up three hits in his first start since Feb. 15
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Kyle Ruchim picked up three hits in his first start since Feb. 15
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    March 9, 2013

    Box Score

     at Missouri State
     Final Score  MSU 7, NU 5
     Winning Pitcher  Jon Harris
     Records  NU 4-4, MSU 9-3
     Next NU Event
     at Missouri State (Springfield, Mo.), March 10, 1 p.m.

    SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Northwestern made a trio of valiant comeback efforts, but ultimately was unable to overcome the Missouri State Bears Saturday afternoon. The Wildcats dropped the middle game of the three-game set, 7-5.

    The Bears (9-3) dented the scoreboard first in the bottom of the second inning. Conor Smith opened the frame with an infield single and Missouri State proceeded to the load the bases before Joey Hawkins grounded into a double play that allowed Smith to score. Northwestern (4-4) starter Luke Farrell struck out Tate Matheny looking to end the threat and limit the damage to a single run.

    Smith struck again for Missouri State to lead off the fourth inning. He opened the stanza with his second home run of the season, a solo blast to left field. Later, the Bears added another run on a sacrifice fly from Matheny. After four complete innings, Northwestern trailed, 3-0.

    Northwestern began to mount its comeback in earnest in the top of the sixth. Trevor Stevens laced a double down the line in right and moved to third base on a single from Kyle Ruchim. Zach Morton then walked to load the bases. Jack Mitchell, making his second career start, launched a ball high into the sky down the left field that dropped only a few feet inside the foul line. Stevens and Ruchim both scored, but Morton had to hold up to see if the ball would be caught, so he was only able to advance to second base. The Wildcats were unable to add on following Mitchell's RBI single, but they had trimmed the three-run deficit to a single score.

    The sixth-inning single was Mitchell's third hit of the season and each time he drove in at least two runs on the play. His first collegiate hit was a two-run pinch-hit double against Michigan State on Feb. 17 and his second, a pinch-hit three-run home run against Saint Louis on Feb. 23.

    Matheny extended Missouri State's lead back to three runs in the bottom of the inning with a two-run home run to left-center field. It was the first career home run for the oldest son of St. Louis Cardinals manager, Mike Matheny.

    The resilient 'Cats clawed back again in their next at-bat. Jake Straub and Stevens greeted relief pitcher Grant Gordon with singles. With two away, Morton lined a base hit to right-center to plate the pair and trim MSU's lead to a lone tally once again. The fifth-year senior, Morton, leads NU with nine RBI in 2013.

    Jack Livingston came on to relieve Farrell to open the bottom of the seventh. After surrendering a bloop single to lead off the frame, the tall right-hander got Koby Peebles to ground into a double play before Smith struck out swinging to end the inning.

    The Bears added on with two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to take a 7-4 lead. Both runs came across the plate on an RBI double by Matheny.

    Northwestern made one final push in the top of the ninth inning. Straub singled and pinch hitter Jake Schieber was hit by a pitch from MSU's Tyler Burgess to ignite the rally. Antonio Freschet, who entered as a pinch runner for Straub, scored on an RBI single through the left side by Ruchim. The next batter, Morton, squared the ball up, but it was hit right at Missouri State's second baseman to start a game-ending double play.

    In his first appearance in the field since Feb. 16, Ruchim finished 3-for-5 in the game with an RBI and a run scored. Havey, who has started all eight games for the 'Cats, has reached base safely in every contest thus far and is batting .429 with a team-high 12 hits.

    Farrell took the loss for the Wildcats. He falls to 1-1 on the young season. Jon Harris picked up his third win of the year for MSU. Burgess collected his first save.

    The Wildcats and Bears will conclude the three-game series at Hammons Field on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. Sophomore right-hander Brandon Magallones will make his third start of the season for Northwestern. He'll be opposed on the bump by Missouri State's Tyler Thompson.

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