By: John Lockwood
This weekend’s MVC action aimed to please the fan no matter what their disposition. If they were looking for an offensive display, they need look no further than Wichita, KS, where three Shockers players combined for 21 runs batted in—more than any other TEAM put up on the weekend. If they were looking for good pitching, they had to look no further than Peoria where Illinois State pitchers compiled a dumbfounding 26 strikeouts against Bradley hitters—on Saturday alone. The end result: Creighton sits atop the conference with 5-1 record, while Illinois State, Missouri State and Southern Illinois all sit in second with records of 4-2.
CBD MVC Players of the Week:
WSU – Sr. DH Preston Springer, 6-13, 3 HR, 2B, 12 RBI, 4 R
ISU – Fr. RHP Dan Savas, W(3-1); 5 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, BB, 9 K’s
Evansville at Wichita State: Shockers Win 2-1
Wichita State (23-16, 3-3) felt the loss of senior starter Tim Kelley early in the series, dropping game one 12-11 to the Purple Aces of Evansville. In what was ultimately a back-and-forth affair, the Shockers were able to jump out to an 8-3 lead after four innings, thanks in large part to a five-run third inning in which Evansville (19-14, 1-5) shot themselves in the foot by committing an error at second base and a wild pitch which allowed the Wichita to prolong the inning. Catcher Chris O’Brien added a two-run double the following inning to put Wichita on top big. But the Purple Aces were far from done. After scoring two in the following inning on a Ryan Osterle two-run shot to right, Evansville took an 11-8 lead with a 6-run sixth inning. Cody Fick got things going with a 2-out grand slam (aided by 45 MPH winds blowing out to right field), and an Osterle single, Jared Baehl double and Trent Copeland single accounted for the two other runs. Fick added a huge insurance run—as it turned out to be the winning run—on an RBI double in the top of the ninth. Wichita State made a last ditch effort to come back, as O’Brien homered to lead off the ninth and DH Preston Springer hit a two run shot to pull within one. But Aces reliever James Kohler was able to get the second baseman Halbert to line out to short to end the roller-coaster of a game.
Wichita rebounded loudly in game two however, run-ruling Evansville 11-1 in eight innings. O’Brien and Springer both followed up strong game one performances with monster game twos. O’Brien was 3-5 and belted his seventh homer of the year while Springer had the same tally, added a three-run homer and had five RBI on the day. Starter Charlie Lowell was for the second straight week, throwing all eight innings, scattering just six hits and one unearned run and punching-out eight.
The Shocks followed up resoundingly in game three, taking the series with a 9-2 win. The rubber match was a tightly contested affair, with both teams knotted at two going into the bottom of the sixth. But O’Brien—who has just been searing hot this entire season and keeps adding to his Player of the Year résumé each passing game—notched a bases-loaded single to drive in a pair and put the Shockers up for good. Johnny Coy—who officially ended his slump with an eight hit weekend— added a solo shot in the eighth inning and Springer—who had a mind-boggling twelve RBI in the series—contributed a three-run homer as well, putting the Aces away for good. Fick (5-2) dropped his second straight decision on the year.
EU – Sr. 3B Cody Fick, 5-15, GS, 2B, 6 RBI, R
WSU – Jr. C Chris O’Brien, 8-15, 2 HR, 2B, 7 RBI, 3 R
Sr. DH Preston Springer, 6-13, 3 HR, 2B, 12 RBI, 4 R
So. 1B Johnny Coy, 8-15, HR, 3 RBI, 6 R
Illinois State at Bradley: Redbirds Sweep Braves on Road
Far from the offensive slugfest which was occurring in Wichita, Saturday’s cold and wet double-header was dominated by an Illinois Sate Redbirds (24-10, 4-2) team with a conference best 3.31 Team ERA. The Redbirds outscored host Bradley (19-15, 1-5) 16-3 on the day, sweeping the Braves by game one and game two scores of 4-1 and 12-1, respectively. Runs were difficult to come by in Saturday’s opener, but luckily for coach Kingston’s offense, his pitchers were other-worldly as starter Corey Mains tallied 10 K’s in six innings, and reliever Justin Hauer—who was excellent all weekend for the Redbirds—added five more in two and two-thirds. Kenny Long, coming back from injury, picked up his third save of the season. Maines, who only allowed 3 hits against him, improved to 7-0 on the season—the best record in the conference. First baseman Zach Amrein hit his team-best seventh homerun on the season.
Freshman wunderkind Dan Savas got the nod for the second game, after posting a career-high 12 strikeouts in relief against Creighton last weekend. Savas did not disappoint again, going five innings (in a seven inning game) scattering four hits and a run (unearned) and notching 9 K’s. Shortstop Josh Colon had a 4 RBI day, and catcher Matt Mirabal was 3-5 with a double and RBI. Player of the Year Kevin Tokarski reached base five times, going 1-1 with four walks.
A six-run sixth inning was enough to put ISU up on top of Bradley for good, allowing the Redbirds to win game 3—and clinch the series—by a final of 12-7. Sophomore JD Learnard lasted only 4.2 innings, leaving with the bases loaded and a tenuous 5-4 lead in the balance. But Hauer came in and recorded a huge strikeout—one of his seven on the weekend in relief—to preserve the lead. This would prove the difference as ISU scored six runs on five consecutive hits, allowing the Redbirds to bat around in the inning. Braves Left fielder Brad Kimball added his fourth homerun of the season in the third inning in what would be a 4 RBI day for the redshirt Junior. Hauer (2-0) earned the win in relief.
ISU – Fr. RHP Dan Savas, W(3-1); 5 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, BB, 9 K’s
Jr. RHP Justin Hauer, 2 G, W(2-0); 4.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 7 K
BU – Jr. LF Brad Kimball, 5-10, HR, 2B, 4 RBI, 2 R
Creighton at Indiana State: Jays Sweep Series against Sycamores
The Creighton Jays (26-7, 5-1) shutdown the Indiana State Sycamores (19-15, 2-4) in game one of their three-game set at Bob Warn Field in Terre Haute, winning by a score of 4-0. Hard throwing lefthander Ty Blach scattered six hits and two walks 7.1 scoreless innings, striking out five on way to his sixth win of the season. Anthony Bemboom contributed his third and fourth homeruns on the year, and Jimmy Swift added a solo shot in the ninth.
In a cold and rainy game two, Creighton blew open a 3-3 tie in the 5th inning thanks to a 2 RBI single by right fielder Trever Adams, en route to a 9-5 win and clinch of the series. Jays starter Jonas Dufek (6-0) remained perfect on the season despite having an uncharacteristically poor start, allowing five earned runs on five hits and two walks in six and two thirds innings. Sycamores third baseman Koby Kraemer was 2-5 with a three-run homerun and 4 RBI total, while Adams hit his ninth homerun of the season.
With the series already clinched, the Sycamores looked to take one from the Jays. With the lead 4-3 in the eighth, Jays’ centerfielder Mike Gerber hit a solo homerun to extend the lead. The Sycamores mounted a rally in the bottom of the eighth, tying the game on a two-run homer by right-fielder Robby Ort. However, Creighton answered right back in the top of the ninth when first baseman Nick Judkins hit a solo shot to lead off the ninth. Reliever Kurt Spomer pitched a scoreless ninth for his third win of the season, and secure the win—and the series sweep—6-5. Trever Adams hit his league-leading tenth homerun of the season.
CU – Sr. RF Trever Adams, 6-12, 2 HR, 2B, 5 RBI, 4 R
INS – Jr. RHP Colin Rea, L(6-2); 8 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 8 K
Missouri State at Southern Illinois: Bears Take Series 2-1
Weather pushed the MSU-SIU series back a day, with game one played on Saturday and the remainder played in a double-header on Sunday. Missouri State (21-13, 4-2) hoped to slug their way past the MVC-leading Salukis of Southern Illinois (13-22, 4-2) in Carbondale this weekend, and the weather didn’t appear to dampen these plans as the Bears took game one by a score of 11-4. A five-run second inning and sixth run fourth gave MSU a commanding 11-2 lead that starter Nick Petree (5-0) would not relinquish. Saluki starter Cameron Maldonado (3-5) was not able to replicate the success of his previous start, but was not helped early on as three errors in the second inning extended the Bears’ scoring run and put the game out of reach early. Four Bears’ hitters had at least four hits and shortstop Travis McCormack was 4-3 with two RBI.
In the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader, SIU proved “anything you can do, I can do better” walloping the Bears 11-1 in seven innings. The Saluki’s scored 7 runs in the first two innings, thanks to Jordan Siversten, who hit a 2 RBI double in the bottom of the first and followed up with a grand slam in the second—his team-leading eighth homer of the year. This was more than enough for starter Cody Forsythe who threw another impressive outing going the distance, scattering seven hits and walk for one run and striking out five.
But it was Missouri State who would win the war, taking game two of the doubleheader 5-4 to clinch the series. Through five innings the game appeared to be a one-sided affair like its predecessors, with SIU holding a 4-0 lead as the Bears could only scatter hits against Saluki starter Brad Drust. But after halving the lead in the sixth, first baseman Brent Seifert hit his seventh homer of the season to tie the game at 4-all. The Bears would take the lead on a McCormack sac fly off SIU closer Tyler Dray in the eighth. MSU closer Dan Kickham pitched two scoreless innings of relief to pick up his eighth save of the season.
MSU – Fr. RHP Nick Petree, W(5-0); 7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, BB, 7 K
SIU – Jr. LF Jordan Sivertsen, 3-8, 9 RBI, HR, 2 2B, 3 R