SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The Illinois State baseball team allowed six Missouri State runs in the first two innings before mounting a ninth-inning rally that fell short, resulting in an 8-6 loss in a Missouri Valley Conference Tournament game that ended early Saturday morning at Hammons Stadium.

The No. 8 seed Redbirds' first setback in three tourney games dropped their overall record to 15-39 and set up a 3 p.m. Bracket B rematch with the top-seeded Bears (40-16) for the right to advance to the 7 p.m. championship game.

Missouri State got off to a fast start against ISU starter Colton Johnson (1-5), scoring four runs on three bases-loaded walks around an RBI single by Normal West graduate Alex Jefferson.

The Bears added two in the second off Mitch Weis before a Nick Zouras sacrifice fly scored the Redbirds' first run in the bottom half. Zouras scored on a Noah Sadler single in the seventh to trim the Missouri State lead to 6-2.

In the top of the ninth, Jefferson reached on an error, moved up on a Braden Niksich wild pitch, took third on a double steal and scored on another wild pitch before a John Privitera single plated Jack Duffy.

The Redbirds scored four in the bottom of the ninth with help from three Missouri State errors. Joe Butler came in on a John Rave sacrifice fly, Owen Miller's two-out single scored Sadler and Derek Parola drove in two with a single to left.

The Bears' Jake Fromson relieved Alex Moore with runners on the corners and induced a Colin Braithwaite ground out to end the game, recording his second save.

The Redbirds used six pitchers and issued 11 walks, six by Weis. Missouri State's Nate Witherspoon (4-3) went seven innings, allowing two runs on six hits.

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