Aces Baseball beats Murray State, to stay unbeaten in MVC Championship Tournament
EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - The University of Evansville’s seventh-inning magic in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament continued on Thursday night, as the Purple Aces rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to knock off No. 5 Murray State, 3-2, at Bob Warn Field in Terre Haute, Indiana.
“I’m just really proud of the fight and grit that we showed tonight,” said UE head coach Wes Carroll. “It really started on the mound, as Donovan Schultz was outstanding tonight, and locked in from the start. And, then our bats were able to come alive in the seventh inning, and Michael Parks shut it down from there.
“A great win tonight against a very good Murray State offense. Let’s keep it going tomorrow against a very, very good team in Indiana State.”
Schultz (6-5) was sharp from the start, allowing just a single base-runner through the first three innings. Murray State would score two runs off of Schultz in the sixth inning on an RBI single by shortstop Drew Vogel and an RBI ground-out by outfielder Carson Garner. On the ground out by Garner, UE junior shortstop Simon Scherry robbed him of a base hit with a full-extension dive on a sharply hit ball up the middle, and then he recovered in time to throw out Garner by a half-step. It proved to be a key moment in the game, as Murray State would take a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning, before Evansville would finally get to starter Bryce Valero.
Valero held UE to just two hits through the first six innings, but UE senior outfielder Mark Shallenberger opened the seventh inning with a single to center field. Scherry would then rope an RBI triple to the wall in left-center field to score Shallenberger and cut the Murray State lead to 2-1.
Sophomore catcher Evan Waggoner greeted reliever Nathan Holler (2-2) with a walk. Then, after a ground out put two runners in scoring position, UE senior third baseman Brent Widder came through with an RBI single through the left-side to tie the game at 2-2. Then, with runners on the corners and one-out, Holler threw the ball away on an attempted pick-off to score Waggoner and give UE a 3-2 lead.
UE graduate reliever Michael Parks would come on out of the bullpen and workless a pair of scoreless innings to nail down his second save of the year and send UE to 2-0 in the MVC Tournament. Combined, Schultz and Parks allowed just five hits – all singles - with nine strikeouts and only one walk.
Scherry led UE offensively by going 2-for-4 with a double and a triple and an RBI. Graduate outfielder Eric Roberts also went 1-for-3 with his 20th stolen base of the year to make history, as he became the first Purple Ace to ever record 20-plus home runs and 20-plus stolen bases in the same season. He is also just the second MVC player to reach the 20-20 plateau since 1991.
With the victory, Evansville improves to 35-22 overall. The Purple Aces will now face top-seeded and nationally-ranked Indiana State (40-14 overall) on Friday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. central time. Every game of the MVC Tournament can be seen live on ESPN+, with every UE game also being available in the Tri-State area on the radio on 107.1 FM-WJPS and the Old National Bank/Purple Aces Sports Network from Learfield.
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