Baseball Championship: Evansville 7, Missouri State 2
No. 5 EVANSVILLE 7, No. 8 MISSOURI STATE 2
UE (32-26); MSU (21-34)
WICHITA, Kan. - Making his first start of the season, University of Evansville senior right-hander Corey Davisson tossed seven strong innings on Thursday, and the Purple Aces were able to overcome both the Missouri State University Bears and a nearly three-hour rain delay to stay alive in the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Baseball Tournament with a 7-2 victory at Eck Stadium in Wichita, Kansas.
With the victory, Evansville will advance on to face top-seeded Wichita State in the Bracket B championship round, with UE needing two victories over the Shockers to win the bracket title and advance to Saturday's MVC title game. Plans are for the first Bracket B championship game to be played on Thursday night in Wichita, as long as it can get underway before 11:00 p.m. central time. Illinois State and Indiana State began the Bracket A championship round at 6:50 p.m.
Davisson was the story for UE on Thursday against Missouri State, as after allowing a two-run home run in the first inning to MSU's Luke Voit, Davisson held the Bears to just two more hits over six scoreless frames. Overall, Davisson scattered two runs on three hits, while striking out four in 7.0 innings of work to improve to 9-1 on the season. After the nearly three-hour rain delay, freshman Jake Naumann tossed two shutout innings of relief to preserve the victory.
Voit gave Missouri State a 2-0 lead in the first inning on Davisson's only mistake of the afternoon, as he launched a two-out, two-run home run to left field. UE would answer back with a single run in the third inning on an RBI single by junior infielder Cody Fick, before Fick tied the game at 2-2 in the fifth inning with a sacrifice fly to the warning track in left field.
Evansville would take the lead for good in the sixth inning on an RBI single by senior designated hitter Andy Pascoe, before the Purple Aces broke open the contest with a four-run seventh-inning explosion.
Junior outfielder Greg Wallace began the rally with a one-out triple to right-center field to tie the Missouri Valley Conference single-season record for triples with his 13th three-bagger of the season. After a walk to Fick put runners on the corners with one out, sophomore second baseman Trentt Copeland reached base on a squeeze bunt attempt in which Missouri State could get no one out. Junior outfielder Nate Smith then roped a two-run double down the left-field line to push the lead to 6-2, and he would eventually score on a wild pitch to give UE a 7-2 lead.
Smith went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI to lead UE, while both Wallace and Pascoe added two hits as well. Fick also drove in two runs in the contest to move his State Farm MVC Tournament total to a tournament-best eight RBI this week.
With the victory, Evansville improves to 32-26 overall. Missouri State, meanwhile, concludes its season at 21-34 overall.