Story by Mark McFarland, Assistant Sports Editor
With the help of junior outfielder Brandon Gutzler, the Racers were able to win three of four games over Northern Illinois University last weekend. Murray State is second in the nation for runs scored with 91 and are behind Vanderbilt’s 92.
Murray State scored 71 runs in four games this weekend, giving up 44 to Northern Illinois. Twenty-nine of the 71 runs came in the series finale when the Racers won 29-16.
The Racers and the Huskies combined for 42 runs in the final game of the series, as the Racers were able to come away with the win 29-16.
Both teams sent out a combined 11 pitchers and combined for 417 pitches thrown in the contest.
The Huskies trailed 19-16 after the seventh inning, but a 10-run eighth inning for the Racers sealed the victory. Sophomore infielder Caleb Hicks and Gutzler combined to go 6-10 from the plate. Gutzler added three home runs and six RBIs.
Gutzler won the Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week award for his efforts this past week. He went 12-21 with 22 RBIs, five home runs and had a 1.429 slugging percentage. He also scored 10 runs and added three extra-base hits to go along with his five home runs.
In the first game of the doubleheader on Saturday, the Racers were able to scratch out a high-scoring win 15-12.
Senior right-handed pitcher Andrew Bramley started the game and could only get through 2.2 innings as he gave up six runs, with only two earned on six hits and two walks.
The Racers were down 11-0 going into the bottom of the fourth inning when they broke through and scored six runs. Freshman right-handed pitcher and infielder Jaron Robinson started the Racers off with a two-run home run, which brought junior left-handed pitcher and first baseman Jack Hranec around to score. Senior infielder Nick Moore doubled to bring sophomore infielder and catcher Kipp Moore in to score. Gutzler then hit his second home run of the series bringing junior infielder and outfielder Adam Bauer and Nick Moore to the plate to make the score 11-6 Huskies.
Murray State continued to hit the ball and brought home five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning after giving up one run in the top of the inning to make the score 12-11. Neither team would score again until the Racers put across three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to secure the victory.
After two winning games for the weekend, the Racers confidence was up, until Northern Illinois was able to win the second game of the doubleheader 12-10, out-hitting the Racers 17-14.
Despite giving up seven runs in the first inning, the Huskies were able to get their pitching under control as senior pitcher Ryan Olson came on to finish the first inning and would throw a total of 6.1 innings to earn himself the win.
Gutzler and junior catcher Tyler Lawrence were able to combine 6-9 from the plate and five RBI in the losing effort for the Racers. Hicks and junior first baseman Ramsey Scott went a combined 5-10 with two RBIs to follow Gutzler and Lawrence.
Murray State defeated the Huskies 17-4 behind a five-run first inning to get the bats working.
Gutzler started off the inning by bringing in junior outfielder Aaron Bence in to score on an RBI single. Lawrence moved Gutzler to second base on a single to bring up Scott. Scott reached on an error by the Huskies which brought Gutzler around to score the second run of the game. Hicks came up and hit his first Division I home run to bring across three more runs in the bottom of the first inning.
The offense didn’t stop there as the Racers would go on to score 12 more runs in the game behind a six-run bottom of the fifth inning. Gutzler contributed a 3-5 day at the plate with seven RBIs, a home run and a double; while Hicks went 3-4 with four RBIs, a home run and a double on the day. Murray State got 18 hits in the game while only giving up nine to Northern Illinois.
Hranec pitched 5.3 innings, giving up four runs, though only two of them were earned. He gave up four hits and walked five batters in his winning effort. Freshman left-handed pitcher Blake Clynes came in and pitched 3.2 innings giving up five hits and striking out three Husky batters in his relief effort.
Murray State will host Creighton this weekend for a three-game series starting on Friday. The Bluejays are 3-3 on the year following two series’ at Fresno State and Stetson.