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Missouri Valley Conference Weekend Recap (May 6th-8th)

By: John Lockwood
I’m man enough to admit when I’m wrong, and after going 0-4 on predictions this week I’ll admit: I was wrong. But that doesn’t stop the truth of the matter from being that the team with the worse record won every series in the Missouri Valley this weekend. Wichita State took two of three from conference-leading Creighton at Eck Stadium to bring them within one game of first place, while Missouri State climbed up in the standings to third thanks to a series victory over Illinois State. Elsewhere in the Valley, Bradley won its first conference series on the season taking two of three from visiting Southern Illinois and Indiana State took its second MVC series victory from an Evansville team which had been rolling as of late.

CBD MVC Players of the Week:

WSU – Jr. LHP Charlie Lowell, W(9-4); CG, 5 H, 8K

BU – Jr. LHP Joe Bircher, W(6-4); CG, 2 H, 7 K

Creighton at Wichita State: Jays Drop Two of Three to Shockers

Though still atop the Conference standings, Creighton was dealt a blow to its MVC supremacy after dropping its series on the road against Wichita State this past weekend. The Shockers came out big in Friday’s opener, as starter Charlie Lowell shut-down the Jays’ offense and had plenty of run-support in Wichita’s 8-0 win. Lowell (9-4) went all nine innings, allowing just five hits, no walks and striking out 8. Lowell had plenty of support at the plate, as Tyler Grimes, Preston Springer and Don Lambert each hit homeruns. Grimes’ shot was part of a 4-5 day, while Springer was 3-4 with two-runs batted in. Creighton starter Ty Blach who had not lost a game since last season (against Wichita), dropped to 7-1 after allowing six runs on thirteen hits in just six and a third innings pitched.

The Jays showed some life Saturday, capitalizing on a five run fifth inning to win 7-5. After the Jays scored, two runs in the top of the second, Alex Staehly launched a three-run homer to right-center to make the score 5-2. The Jays added two more in the inning on back-to-back doubles by catcher Scott Thornburg and centerfielder Mike Gerber. Jays’ starter Jonas Dufek went seven strong innings, giving up three runs, and striking out 12 against only 1 walk. While Wichita reliever TJ McGreevy was solid for the Shockers, going 4.1 innings, the CU bullpen scuffled towards the end of the game allowing two runs on five hits. However, closer Kurt Spomer was able to get Tyler Coughenour to strike out with the tying runs on second and third to end the game and even the series at one a piece.

Wichita State had the last laugh however, nearly run-ruling the Jays in Sunday’s rubber match, 12-3. The Shockers came out firing, scoring 10 runs in the first four innings. Up 2-0 in the third, the Jays walked the bases loaded twice, and the Shockers capitalized scoring four in the inning. The Shocks followed this up with four more in the next inning, with the big blow coming on a Micah Green bases-clearing double to right center. Trever Adams and Gerber each had homeruns for the Jays.

Notables:

WSU – Jr. LHP Charlie Lowell, W(9-4); CG, 5 H, 8K
Fr. LF Micah Green, 5-12, 2 2B, 6 RBI, 2 R

Missouri State at Illinois State: MSU Wins Series 2-1

Missouri State came out on top this weekend against Illinois State, taking two of three from the Redbirds in Normal. The Bears blew open a 3-2 lead scoring 7 runs in the seventh and eighth innings en route to a 10-3 series opening win. Despite putting eleven runners on base, MSU starter Nick Petree (7-1) only allowed two runners to score. Redbirds starter Corey Maines (8-2) was tagged for six earned runs, on 10 hits, four walks and five strike outs.

The Bears clinched their fourth series of the season in Saturday’s 6-3 victory. The Bears took a 3-1 lead in the top of the sixth on a Brent Seifert 2-RBI double. Redbirds’ freshman Dan Savas went six innings allowing three runs while K-ing six. The Redbirds defense broke-down in the later innings, as an error and dropped third strike led to three un-earned runs off of relievers Justin Hauer and Kenny Long. Missouri State catcher Luke Voit hit his second homer in as many days while Redbird outfielder Tyler McNeely hit his tenth four-bagger of the season.

The Redbirds were able to escape the weekend with a win however, taking Sunday’s finale 8-3. ISU was able to score its first four runs without recording a hit, and four and five hitters Tyler McNeely and Ryan Court both had three hit games to propel the Redbirds to their largest offensive output on the weekend. Starter JD Learnard (6-2) went 6.1 innings allowing 12 runners to reach base, but only let three runs cross the plate. Closer Kenny Long went the final two and two thirds only allowing one hit and striking out three.

The Redbirds face Eastern Illinois next Wednesday, while Missouri State has the week off before hosting Bradley next weekend.

Notables:

MSU – So. C Luke Voit, 6-13, 2 HR, 2B, 5 RBI, 2 R
ISU – Jr. 2B Kevin Tokarski, 4-9, HR, 2 RBI, 5 R, 5 BB

Evansville at Indiana State: Indiana State Takes Two of Three

The Sycamores notched their second series win of the year, taking two from a rolling Evansville team this weekend in Terre Haute. Jeremy Lucas hit his second homer of the season to propel Indiana State to a 6-3 win in Friday’s opener. The Sycamores got out to a 3-0 lead before the Aces scored three runs in the sixth inning thanks to doubles from Cody Fick and Ryan Osterle. However, this is all the offense Evansville would get as the Aces couldn’t get a runner past first base in any other inning. The Sycamores would regain the lead in the seventh, scoring on a bases-loaded groundout and sac-fly to go ahead for good. Chris Machado picked up his fourth win of the season as ISU got 3.1 innings of scoreless relief from its bullpen.

The Aces won a marathon game two 10-9 in 13 innings. In what was truly a back and forth game (the lead changed five different times), Evansville scored two runs in the top of the 13th inning thanks to a lead-off double from Eric Stamets, three consecutive singles from Fick, centerfielder Greg Wallace and third-baseman Trent Copeland, and a sac fly from left-fielder Jared Baehl. Despite allowing nine runs on the day, Evansville received 4 innings of shutout baseball from two different pitchers. The Sycamores mounted a late comeback, scoring run number 9 on a single from Robbby Ort, but reliever Josh Boggs (4-0) got Aces’ shortstop Tyler Wampler to ground into the fielder’s choice to end the game. Ryan Osterle had a grand slam in the fourth inning to put UE up 4-2 at the time. Both Cody Fick and ISU first baseman Jon Hedges had 4-7 games at the plate.

The Sycamores took the series in game three thanks to solid pitching from senior starter Jason Van Skike, winning Sunday’s rubber match 4-1. First baseman Jon Hedges extended a 2-0 lead to four runs with a two-run homer in the sixth inning. This was more than enough for Van Skike (4-3) who went the distance, scattering six hits and four walks while only allowing one run and striking out four.

ISU takes on SIU Edwardsville in the rubber match of a season series tied at one a piece on the road on Tuesday, while Evansville hosts Austin Peay at home Wednesday evening.

UE – 1B Ryan Osterle, 5-15, HR, 2B, 5 RBI, R
Sr. 3B/P Cody Fick, 8-14, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 4 R
ISU – 1B Jon Hedges, 6-14, HR, 2 2B, 6 RBI, 4 R

Southern Illinois at Bradley: Bradley Wins First MVC Series

Bradley welcomed the Salukis of Southern Illinois to Peoria this weekend, and walked away with their first series win of 2011. Pitching led the way for the Braves as BU shutout their opponents in both their wins. In game one, starter Joe Bircher continued to roll through the MVC competition, facing only one batter above the minimum in his first career shut-out as the Braves blanked the Salukis 9-0. Bircher (6-4) went the distance and allowed only two hits and K’d seven. Jason Leblebijan, Brian Martin and James Kottaras each chipped in with 2 RBI a piece. On the season, Bircher improved to 2-2 in conference play and dropped his ERA to a miniscule 1.78.

In a game that appeared to be going Bradley’s way, the Salukis scored 11 runs in the final three innings of Saturday’s game two, going on to win by a score of 11-4. Senior third baseman Blake Pinnon had a 4-5 day including a double and homerun and 6 runs batted in. SIU’s Cody Forsythe rebounded from a rough start to toss eight innings for his seventh win of season. Centerfielder Brian Martin led the Braves with a three hit performance.

The Braves got another shut-out performance on Sunday, this time from starter John Nasshan, to clinch the series with a 4-0 win in the series finale. Nasshan (3-5) tossed eight scoreless innings, allowing only four hits and five walks, three Ks. Four Braves hitters each knocked in a run, while closer Justin Ziegler pitched a scoreless ninth for the Braves’ first series win on the season.

Notables:

BU – Jr. LHP Joe Bircher, W(6-4); CG, 2 H, 7 K
SIU – Sr. 3B Blake Pinnon, 4-12, 2B, HR, 6 RBI, 2 R