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Missouri Valley Conference Weekend Recap (April 1st-3rd)

By: John Lockwood
With the last weekend before conference play in the books, Creighton (20-5), Illinois State (19-7), and Bradley (17-8), sit atop the MVC standings with only their midweek matchups to prepare them for next weekend. Noticeably, Wichita State (18-11) has dropped out of the top-3 and now sits in fifth place behind Evansville (15-9). Missouri State (16-10), Indiana State (15-10) and Southern Illinois (7-19) round out the remainder of the league.

The Shockers began a mid-week series with Hawaii which continued into the weekend, dropping three out of four to an offensively potent Rainbows team. While the Shockers started the series with a well-played—and tough-to-swallow—loss in extra innings, they came back and won game two behind an impressive start by junior Josh Smith who threw seven shut-out innings. But this same Shocker team (with the exception of catcher Chris O’Brien—see below), did not show up for the remaining two games, being outscored 24-7. The Shockers will use two mid-week games against Alcorn State to rebound and recalibrate before conference play.

Elsewhere in the Valley, Illinois State outscored visiting Chicago State 56-9 in a four-game shellacking at Duffy Bass Field, Indiana State swept Division II Rockhurst at home, while the Creighton Jays took all three from visiting West Coast Conference foe Portland.

CBD MVC Players of the Week:

WSU – Jr. C Chris O’Brien, 7-15, HR, 3 2B, 10 RBI, 4 R

ISU – Fr. C Mike Hollenbeck 9-14, 2 HR, 2B, 10 RBI, 7 R

Creighton – Sr. RHP Jonas Dufek, 8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 11 K

Wichita State vs. Hawaii: Shockers Drop 3 to Rainbows

In Game 1 of their four-game series, Wichita State lost to Hawaii 8-7 in 12 innings. The Shockers struck early, with junior catcher Chris O’Brien knocking in two on a single to centerfield in the top of the first. Both teams went back-and-forth trading runs until the seventh when the Rainbows tied it at 7 in the top of the ninth on a sacrifice fly by DH Zack Swasey off of Shockers reliever Cale Elam. Elam would last until the 12th when he was replaced by Chance Sossamon (0-1), who would surrender the winning run on a bases-loaded infield single by Rainbows third-baseman Kalani Brackenridge.

In Game 2, Shockers LHP Josh Smith (4-1) threw seven shut-out innings en route to a 6-2 win. O’Brien followed up his 3 RBI performance in the first game with a 2-3, 5 RBI, showing in game 2. Both hits came in the form of RBI doubles, with the latter of the bases-clearing variety, coming in the top of the eighth to give the Shockers a commanding 6-0 lead. This was more than enough runs for Smith, who only allowed four hits and a walk on the day, while notching 7 punch-outs. Hawaii’s Matt Sisto dropped to 1-4 on the season, despite tallying 7 K’s himself. The Rainbows would add two in the bottom of the ninth off a trio of Wichita pitchers before freshman LHP Aaron LaBrie shut the door with a strike-out of Rainbows clean-up hitter Jeffrey Van Doornum—ending both a ten-pitch at-bat and a Hawaii rally.

Unfortunately, the remainder of the series did not go as well for the Shockers, as they lost games 3 and 4 by scores of 12-4 and 12-3, respectively. The Shockers took an early 2-0 lead in game 3 on a bases loaded walk to Zach Stucky and Tyler Grimes single, but the Rainbows scored 7 in the fourth and never looked back. Hawaii second baseman Kolten Wong went 3-4 with a homerun and five runs driven in. In the lone bright spot for WSU, O’Brien continued to hit well, going 2-3 with two doubles. In game 4, it was more of the same for the Shockers, with O’Brien going 2-3 with a homer and two RBI, but the pitching falling short. Starter Charlie Lowell dropped to 4-4 on the season after going 5.1 innings and giving up seven earned. Wong meanwhile had another monster game going 4-5 with a triple and 4 RBI.

Notables:
WSU – Jr. C Chris O’Brien, 7-15, HR, 3 2B, 10 RBI, 4 R
Hawaii – Jr. 2B Kolten Wong, 8-16, HR, 3B, 9 RBI, 7 R, 4 BB,

Rockhurst vs. Indiana State: Indiana State Wins 3-0

Indiana State started their series against Division-II Rockhurst with a sweep of Thursday’s double-header by scores of 4-3 (F/7) and 2-1 (F/7), respectively. After taking a 2-0 lead, the Sycamores matched the Hawks run for run, with Rockhurst adding one more in the bottom of the sixth. Junior LHP Reggie Hochstedler (1-0) picked up the win in relief after start Jason Van Skike only lasted four innings.

In Game 2, Senior RHP Blake Drake (1-2) went 6.2 innings for the Sycamores, giving up one earned-run on four hits, while tallying four strike-outs. Sophomore RHP Nick Lichtenberger went five innings for the Hawks, surrendering just two hits, but surrendering the second of his two walks in the sixth inning which the Sycamores would knock-in for the tying run off reliever Alex Seier. Indiana State eventually scored the winning run on a bases-loaded walk off single by junior second baseman Jeff Meira, who had come in as a pinch hitter earlier in the game. The series finale was hardly close however, as six different ISU players had multi-hit games culminating in a 14-0 win for the Sycamores. Kyle Burnam hit his first homerun of the season in a 3 RBI day for him, while—somewhere lost in the offensive output—starter Colin Rea gave an impressive performance going all seven innings surrendering just one hit while walking three and striking out three.

Notables:
Jr. RHP Colin Rea, CG (7 IP), 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 K

Chicago State vs. Illinois State: ISU Sweeps

Illinois State outscored non-conference opponent Chicago State 56-9 over the weekend, taking all four games in convincing fashion from the Cougars. Game 1 saw the Redbirds win 18-2, with the ISU pitching staff picking up 18 Ks. Sr. RHP Corey Maines (5-0) set a career-high—topping last week’s 11 K performance—with 12 Ks in five innings. In Saturday’s doubleheader, the Redbirds totaled 32 runs, winning 17-2 and 15-4 in games 3 and 4, respectively. Freshman catcher Mike Hollenbeck had 8 RBI on the day and the Redbirds hit six homeruns in game 2. The last game of the series was decided by a score of 6-1 in favor of ISU. Junior starter Ryan Camp threw seven innings giving up just four hits and one run (unearned) while fanning a pair.

Notables:

Fr. C Mike Hollenbeck 9-14, 2 HR, 2B, 10 RBI, 7 R

Sr. LF Tyler McNeely, 10-15, HR, 2B, 8 R, 4 RBI

Sr. 1B Zach Amrein, 6-15, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 5 R

Jr. RHP Ryan Camp, W, 7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, BB, 2 K

Portland vs. Creighton: Creighton Sweeps

Creighton welcomed WCC-opponent Portland to Omaha and sent them back to the west coast with three more losses. In game one, three different Jays tallied three hits, as Creighton beat the Pilots 11-3. Jays’ starter Ty Blach (5-0) went six-and-a-third, surrendering three runs on six hits while striking out six. Catcher Anthony Bemboom and centerfielder Mike Gerber combined for six hits and six runs batted in.

Game 2 had much the same feel, as the Jays won decisively 12-0. Creighton got a tremendous start out of senior righty Jonas Dufek (4-0). Dufek tossed eight innings of four-hit ball, giving up no runs or walks while striking out eleven. Meanwhile, the Jays offense took the lead with four runs in the third capped off by a Trever Adams 3-run homer—his sixth of the year. The Jays added seven more in the sixth for good measure. Adams finished the day with five RBI.

Game 3 was more tightly contested, with Creighton taking the game 4-3 on a walk-off single by Trever Adams. Down 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth, junior third-baseman Chance Ross hit an infield single and was sacrificed into scoring position by left fielder Joey Bowens. Junior Michael Mutcheson hit a single to left center scoring Ross, and advanced to second on a throwing error by the shortstop, eventually scoring on the walk-off RBI single by Adams.

Notables:
Sr. RHP Jonas Dufek, 8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 11 K
Sr. RF Trever Adams, 7-14, HR, 2 2B, 7 RBI, 4 R

Saint Louis vs. Missouri State: MSU wins 2-1

The Saint Louis Bilikens traveled to Sprinfield, MO this weekend to take on Missouri State, dropping a tightly contested two out of three to the Bears. In the series opener, the Bears broke a 2-2 tie with a third run eighth inning en route to a 5-3 win. DH Brock Chaffin and third baseman Kevin Medtrano combined for six hits while freshman Nick Petree went eight innings, allowing two earned runs, to improve to 3-0 on the season.

The Bilikens struck back in game two, winning on a walk-off wild pitch 6-5. The Bears came back to tie the game at five on a two-out, 2 RBI double by designated hitter Brock Chaffin. SLU’s Jon Myers hit a leadoff single and moved to third base before scoring on an errant pitch by the Bears’ Clay Murphy (3-3).

In the rubber match, Missouri State outlasted the Bilikens 13-11 to take the series. Junior Brent Seifert led the 17-hit attack by going 5-5 with a homerun and 4 RBI. SLU and MSU traded blows until the eighth when Travis McCormack knocked an RBI-single to put the Bears ahead 10-8. With the deficit 13-8, St. Louis mounted a ninth inning rally, scoring three runs on four consecutive two-out singles. Coach Keith Guttin called on junior reliever Dan Kickham to come in and record the final out, clinching the series and picking up his fifth save of the season.

Notables:
CF Aaron Conway, 7-14, 2B, 2 RBI, 4 R
3B Kevin Medrano, 8-14, 4 R

IPFW vs. Evansville: Evansville Takes Two from IPFW

The Purple Aces swept this weekend’s series against the visiting IPFW Mastodons. Evansville took game one by shutting out the Mastodons 11-0. Sophomore RHP Kyle Lloyd improved to 2-2 on the season, tossing seven scoreless while only allowing a walk and four hits, and striking out five. First baseman Ryan Osterle went 4-5 with an RBI and a run scored, while third baseman Cody Fick added two hits and two RBIs to the cause. The Purple Aces slowly but surely came back from a 3-0 deficit in game two, never scoring more than one run in any one inning, to beat IPFW 4-3. The Aces took the lead in the bottom of the eighth on a squeeze play by pinch hitter Shawn Keuster, allowing Nate Smith to score from third. RHP Jake Naumann (2-0) picked up the win after throwing an impressive six shutout innings allowing only two hits and no walks, while punching out four. The Aces capped off the sweep in the series’ finale by scoring five runs in the sixth inning on their way to a 14-6 win. Cody Fick (5-0) went seven innings surrendering four runs (two earned) while also registering his third straight two-hit game. Centerfielder Greg Wallace contributed with a four hit day, scoring four runs as well.

Notables:
CF Greg Wallace, 6-11, HR, 2B, 6 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 2 SB
P/3B Cody Fick, 6-11, 2B, 5 RBI, 3 R, 2 SB; W (5-0), 7 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K

Western Illinois vs. Bradley: Bradley Wins 2-1

Bradley took two hard fought wins from Western Illinois this weekend in Peoria. The Braves took game one by a score of 6-1, capitalizing on two Leatherneck errors to score four unearned runs. Junior RHP Dan Russell took the loss for Western Illinois, dropping him to 3-2 on the season. On the other side, Bradley starter Joe Bircher (4-2) went seven innings, scattering five hits and surrendering only one unearned run for the win. The Braves dropped game two, however, as the Leathernecks had multi-hit games from five different players to win 10-3. The Leathernecks scored four in the seventh and three in the eighth to put the game away as starter Zach Sterling (2-2) got the win in six innings, striking out 8. The Braves took the rubber match however, outslugging Western Illinois 14-9 for the series win. The Leathernecks took a 5-4 lead after a four run fifth inning, only to surrender the lead right back to BU after a five-run bottom of the sixth.

Southern Illinois vs. Kennesaw State: KSU Wins 2-1

The Salukis traveled to Kennesaw, Georgia, this weekend, dropping two to host Kennesaw State. SIU opened the weekend winning the first game by a score of 9-6. Saluki’s starter Cameron Maldonado (2-4) left the game with a 5-1 lead after six, allowing only 3 hits and one earned run, while striking out seven. The bullpen gave up five more runs (only two earned) before the end, but the Salukis offense was able to add four of their own to keep the lead intact. The first six innings of game two started much the same way, with Saluki righty Cody Forsythe leaving the game with a 4-1 lead. But this time, the SIU offense wasn’t there to pick up the slack, and the bullpen’s collapse culminated in a 6-5 win for the Owls. Despite a pinch hit grand slam by SIU’s Nick Johnson—who coincidentally went over the wall to steal a grand slam from Owls first baseman Andy Chriscaden in game one—the Salukis dropped the finale, and the series, 10-6.

Notables:
RF Nick Johnson, 3-9, GS, 6 RBI, 2 R