Morehead State senior catcher Jack Gardner drove in 11 runs on the day, including nearly tying the program record with three home runs and nine RBI in game one, as the Morehead State baseball team secured its sixth OVC series win with two victories over Murray State at Allen Field Friday.
Gardner powered his team to a 17-3 win in the opener, and then the Eagles edged the Racers in a bit tighter battle in game two, 5-3. Not to be left out, graduate student Jason Goe struck out a season-high 11 Racer batters to keep Murray State at bay in the opener as well.
Morehead State stayed in first place in the OVC at 12-5 and moved to 22-15 overall. Murray State, sitting a close second behind the Eagles at 11-7 entering the day, slipped to 21-19 overall and 11-9 in OVC contests. The Eagles have now claimed six straight wins over Murray State since 2019.
Gardner nearly completed the home run cycle in the opener, launching a grand slam first, a two-run bomb in the fifth and a three-run clout two innings later. He was in the on-deck circle in the bottom of the eighth but didn't get another chance to tie the home run record of four set by Jamey Bennett in 1979. Gardner's single-game outburst came within one of Sam Hoehner's record of 10 RBI set in 1998 versus Eastern Kentucky.
HOW IT HAPPENED - GAME 1
- - Senior third baseman Stephen Hill staked the home team to an early 2-0 lead with a two-run homer, his third long ball of 2021, in the first inning.
- - Murray State tied the game 2-2 with a solo homer in the second and RBI double in the third. The Racers could have had mre damage, but the Eagles threw out two runners at the plate trying to score in the first two innings.
- - Gardner's power show started in the third with a grand slam, Morehead State's third bases-clearing blast this season. It was part of a six-run inning as freshman left-fielder Jacob Ferryand senior second baseman Bryce Hensor added RBI singles.
- - Morehead State tacked on eight more runs in the fourth through seventh innings. Freshman shortstop Colton Becker belted his fourth homer of the year for three runs in the fourth.
- - Gardner was at it again in the fifth with a two-run bomb and then nailed the three-run round-tripper in the seventh.
- - Freshman center-fielder Ryley Preece smacked a run-scoring single in the eighth to account for the 17-3 margin.
HOW IT HAPPENED - GAME 2
- - Gardner drove in his 10th RBI in as many innings played with a check-swing ground out in the first to score Preece from third.
- - Murray State's Bryson Bloomer tied the game in the second on a solo homer.
- - Hill put the Eagles back on top 2-1 in the fifth when his grounder was deemed a fielder's choice as Prrece was caught in the run down between second and third, but Hensor scored on the play.
- - A Jake Slunder homer for the Racers knotted the game at 2-2 in the sixth, but Becker made it 3-2 in the bottom of the frame. A long ball to deep left was run down and caught on a diveing play, but freshman first baseman Jackson Feltner scored on the sac fly.
- - Gardner plated his final RBi of the day in the seventh on a double.
- - The Racers crept back to within 4-3 on a solo smash by Brock Anderson in the eighth, but Ferry added insurance with his fifth home run in the bottom of the stanza.
- - Junior closer John Bakke worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his OVC-best seventh save.
- - Gardner had the first nine-RBI game for Morehead State since Major Leaguer Taylor Davis' nine-RBI game versus EKU in 2010.
- - Gardner's three homer day was also the first of that stat variety since Niko Hulsizer versus Alabama A&M in 2017.
- - Morehead State 21 hits in the opening game was a season-high and the most since a 25-hit game versus Alabama A&M on April 9, 2019.
- - Feltner had three hits, including hits in both games, as he extended the OVC's current best hitting streak to 18 games. He also has reached base now safely now in 27 straight games.
- - Hensor has a 12-game hit streak intact and a 17-game reached-base streak going.
- - Hensor, Preece, Gardner, senior outfielder Ryan Layne and sophomore DH Alex Jacobs all had three-hit games in the opener.
- - Goe (3-4) has now struck out 18 batters without issuing a walk in his last two starts. He also has struck out 22 Murray State batters in his last two appearances versus the Racers, including 11 also in the OVC Tournament walk-off win in 2019. He tossed a season-best 8.0 innings today.
- - Conway moved to 8-2 with another relief-appearance win the second game. He is tied for second in the nation in Division I in wins and leads the nation in relief wins.
The teams will wrap up the series on Saturday with a single game at 1 p.m. ET. A non-conference game between the teams will take place on Sunday at Noon.