The ’Breds are not often mistaken for an aggressive team.
They stand in eighth among all OVC teams in stolen bases with 24 on the season.
However, Wednesday’s performance had sophomore Taylor Mathews looking for words.
“It was actually a surprise for us to be aggressive like this,” he said. “We just wanted to be aggressive today and we were. We had three (steals) today.”
Murray State (16-18, 9-11 OVC) beat the visiting Evansville Purple Aces 11-6 in the teams’ first of two meetings this season.
Mathews swiped two of the team’s three bags, junior Anthony Bayus added a steal of his own and two more runners were thrown out trying for second.
Head Coach Rob McDonald called for a couple hit and runs as well, but the team was only successful on one attempt.
Even though the ’Breds skipper signaled for more activity in Tuesday’s contest, he chalked it up to just taking advantage of the situation they are given.
“I don’t know (if we were trying to be more aggressive), the guys were playing hard and when the opportunities present themselves you always try to stay aggressive and the guys did a good job,” McDonald said. “We got some big hits, we were able to run the bases some and our pitching was pretty good.”
The ’Breds offense started hot and stayed hot with freshman Tyler Lawrence coming through early in the game.
Lawrence singled home senior Ty Stetson in the first inning after Stetson singled and advanced to third two batters later.
In the third Lawrence doubled to advance junior Kollin Dowdy who reached on catcher’s interference. Dowdy and Lawrence were brought home by junior Matt McGown’s double to right center.
Then, Dowdy doubled home Bayus and Mathews in the fourth to stretch the ‘Breds’ lead to 5-0.
Murray State sophomore Andrew Bramley held the Purple Aces scoreless through four innings before being relieved by Tyler Saltsman with two men on and two outs in the fifth inning.
Saltsman allowed Bramley’s runners to score before inducing an inning-ending pop out.
“It was nice that we got out to a little bit of a lead,” McDonald said. “Then, what I was especially happy about was that we got out to a lead and then we kept adding to it and that was good, that was big.
“I think that means a lot for our team’s mentality to continue to add on and to be able to do that.”
And the offense certainly did not stop there for the ’Breds.
Bayus scored on Lawrence’s second RBI single of the game, with two outs in the home half of the fifth.
Junior Derek Yoder ripped an RBI double down the third baseline to score McGown in what would be Murray State’s biggest offensive inning.
Yoder and Luke Daugherty came across after a Mathews double and Mathews scored off a Bayus groundout before Dowdy ended the inning with a fly out.
Daugherty made sure to add his own RBI hit in the eighth inning, plating McGown from first base with a deep shot down the right field line.
The Purple Aces were able to trim the deficit, scoring four runs in the ninth but freshman John Lollar shut the door on any comeback attempt.
After last week’s close game with No. 10 Ole Miss, Mathews said the team is confident heading into its Ohio State series April 18-20.
“We’re pretty pumped,” he said. “It’s going to be exciting and hopefully we’ll get some good wins and jump back next weekend into our conference games.”
Story by Nick Dolan, Staff writer