The University of Evansville baseball team claimed is first Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championship since 2006 with a 1-0 victory over Missouri State Thursday night at Hammons Field in Springfield, Mo. The Purple Aces scored their lone run in the second and junior Kyle Freeland was dominant on the mound, allowing just two hit s with 11 strikeouts in 7.0 innings.
Evansville (34-17, 15-4 MVC) tallied just five hits in the contest and only one went for extra bases, as junior Kyle Pollock led off the second with a double, before coming around to score the lone run of the night.
Freeland limited Missouri State (21-29, 7-12 MVC) to two hits in his 7.0 innings of work and climbed to the fifth spot on Evansville’s all-time strikeout list, as his 11 punch outs brought his career total to 276. On the Aces’ single-season list, Freeland ranks third with 122 strikeouts and is just four behind Ryan Miller, who struck out 126 in 2000.
Pollock led off UE’s half of the second with a double to the gap in right center, before advancing to third on a looping single off the bat of junior Boomer Synek. Pollock then crossed home, when sophomore Eric McKibban bounced into a double play.
The Bears’ best scoring chance came in their half of the second, when Patrick Drake reached on a strikeout and a throwing error to lead off the frame and moved to third, when Conor Smith doubled off the base of the wall in left center. However, Freeland would strand both runners, as he struck out Spencer Johnson, retired Eric Cheray on a failed safety squeeze and fanned Dylan Becker to get out of the jam.
Out of the Evansville bullpen, sophomore Brent Jurceka stranded a pair of MSU base runners in the eight, before senior Sam Johns tallied his 11th save of the season to give the Aces at least a share of the regular-season crown.
Congratulations on an outstanding season!