Kyle Freeland was the name of the game Sunday afternoon at Hammons Field, out-dueling the MVC’s top draft prospect Pierce Johnson, as Freeland tossed a one-hit shutout with a career-high 11 strikeouts in the University of Evansville’s 1-0 victory over Missouri State. The win captured the series for the Purple Aces, improving their record to 30-22 overall and 9-9 in the Missouri Valley Conference, while the Bears fell to 35-17 on the season and 11-6 in the MVC.
“Freeland was just outstanding on the mound,” said Head Coach Wes Carroll. “His ability to hit his spots today and get ahead in the count was what brought his success.”
Freeland (4-5), the freshman southpaw, had a no-hitter going into the ninth, but pinch hitter Conor Smith played spoiler with a leadoff single through the right side. However, the lefty sat the next three batters down in order to earn his fourth win of the season. After allowing a two-out walk in the second inning, Freeland went on to retire the next 17 batters consecutively. The Denver, Colo. native limited MSU to just three base runners in the game, facing 29 batters, as he dominated the league’s top hitting team.
Fellow freshman Kyle Pollock was the hero offensively for Evansville, driving home sophomore Tim Bodine from third with two outs in the top of the ninth. Bodine hustled out an infield grounder to lead off the frame, moved to second on Eric Stamets’ sacrifice bunt, and advanced to third on Jake Mahon’s groundout to second.
“I’m really happy with the way the team competed this weekend, especially our young guys. Pollock came through with the huge two-out knock to give us the go-ahead run,” said Carroll.
MSU starter Johnson also was stellar on the mound, recording the complete game, allowing one run, four hits, two walks, and struck out nine.
Senior Trentt Copeland lined a single to lead off the third inning, but like Freeland, Johnson settled in and did not allow another hit until Eric Stamets beat out a grounder to short in the sixth. The two pitchers combined for 12 perfect half innings, each with six.
“It was a great win today and great series win on the road against a strong Missouri State team. Hopefully we can keep this momentum going through the remainder of the season,” added Carroll.
The Aces wrap up the regular season this week, taking a non-conference trip Tuesday to Indiana University before welcoming Illinois State to Braun Stadium for a three-game Valley series that begins Thursday evening at 6:00 p.m.