SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The University of Evansville baseball team launched eight home runs on Saturday, and the Purple Aces’ pitching staff combined to strike out 25 men, as UE opened Missouri Valley Conference play with a doubleheader sweep of Missouri State at Hammons Field in Springfield, Missouri.  With the two wins, Evansville has now won eight games in a row and 15 out of the last 17 overall.

“What a great day at the ballpark today!” said UE head coach Wes Carroll.  “We had different guys up and down our lineup really step up offensively, and I thought that our pitchers did an outstanding job of keeping a very good Missouri State lineup off-balance today.

“Today was a great start to Valley play, but the job isn’t done yet this weekend.  We need to come to the park ready for a battle tomorrow.”

Missouri State jumped out quickly in both games, scoring in the first inning of both contests.  But, UE would take control of both contests with big innings in the second and third trips through the batting order to post 12-7 and 7-3 wins.

In the opener, Missouri State took a 3-0 lead into the fifth inning, before UE exploded for six runs in the fifth to grab a 6-3 lead.  An RBI double by sophomore center-fielder Ty Rumsey and a bunt RBI single by fifth-year right-fielder Eric Roberts started the scoring and cut the MSU lead to 3-2.  A sacrifice fly by junior catcher Brendan Hord would tie the game, before junior shortstop Simon Scherry launched a three-run home run into the Missouri State bullpen in left field to give UE a 6-3 lead.

Missouri State would quickly answer back with two runs to get within a run at 6-5, before fifth-year reliever Michael Parks (1-0) would get out of a two-on, one-out jam to keep UE in the lead.  Roberts then delivered a three-run home run of his own to right-center field in the sixth inning to push the lead to 9-5.

The Bears would scratch across single runs in the sixth and seventh innings to cut UE’s lead to 9-7, before Evansville unleashed three solo home runs to put the game out of reach.  Rumsey launched his third home run of the year to right field in the eighth inning to push the lead to 10-7.  Fifth-year left-fielder Danny Borgstrom and senior third baseman Brent Widder then hit back-to-back home runs in the ninth inning to provide the final margin of victory, 12-7.  Scherry went 3-for-5 in the opener, finishing a triple shy of the cycle to lead UE’s offense, while Parks earned his first win of the year with 4.2 innings of six-hit, two-run relief.

In the nightcap, Missouri State took a 1-0 lead into the third inning, when Evansville would get two-run home runs from fifth-year first baseman Chase Hug and Scherry to take control of the contest.  Rumsey would launch another solo home run in the fourth inning, and Scherry added an RBI triple and scored on a wild pitch in the fifth inning to give UE a 7-1 lead.  Scherry would finish a single shy of the cycle in game two, as he went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and three RBI.  Hug, Widder, and junior second baseman Kip Fougerousse also had two-hit days in game two.

On the mound, senior starter Tyler Denu (3-0) went a career-high 7.0 innings, striking out a career-best 10 men while scattering three runs (two earned) on seven hits to earn the win.  After giving up four hits through the first inning-plus, Denu allowed just three men to reach base the rest of the outing.  Freshman reliever Max Hansmann also struck out five men in 2.0 scoreless innings of relief work.

“I thought our pitching, especially Michael Parks in game one and both Tyler Denu and Max Hansmann in game two, was outstanding today,” said Carroll.  “Parks really helped turn the tide of game one today with the way that he pitched, and it was great to see Denu pitch the way he did today.  That’s how he looked in the fall and in preseason, and for him to go out and strike out 10 men without a walk in seven innings against a lineup like Missouri State was great to see.”

With the doubleheader sweep, Evansville improves to 15-7 overall and 2-0 in the MVC.  Missouri State, meanwhile, falls to 11-10 and 0-2 in the Valley.  The two teams will conclude the series on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m., with UE expected to send junior LHP Donovan Schultz (3-1, 2.67 ERA) to the mound.  Sunday’s series finale can be seen live on ESPN+ and heard live in the Tri-State area and online through 107.1 FM-WJPS.