By: John Lockwood
With the second to last weekend of MVC play in the books, Creighton has a one game lead in the standings thanks to two wins over the weekend at Evansville. Missouri State jumped into second place thanks to their second straight series victory, this time in a sweep over visiting Bradley. Wichita State dropped to third despite taking two of three from Indiana State at home, while Illinois State secured sole possession in the battle for fourth place on the road at Southern Illinois.
CBD MVC Players of the Week:
ILS – Sr. 3B Ryan Court, 7-14, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, 4 R
INS – Fr. LHP Sean Manaea, W(5-3); 7 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 9 K
Illinois State at Southern Illinois
Illinois State rebounded from a Friday night opening loss to Southern Illinois, coming back to win both Saturday and Sunday and take sole possession of fourth place in the MVC.
Behind another stellar start from sophomore left Cody Forsythe, the Salukis were able to jump out to an early series lead, winning Friday’s opener 4-2. For Forsythe (8-3), who went six shut-out innings allowing just three hits, it was his sixth straight win and improved his conference record to an MVC-best 6-0. SIU fired the first shot of the series, as the Saluki’s all-around offensive leader Jordan Sivertsen hit his ninth home-run of the season in the bottom of the second to give his team a 1-0 lead. The Salukis would add two more in the fifth and one more in the seventh to make the score 4-0. After the Redbirds had scored two in the eighth to cut the lead in half, both Kevin Tokarski and Tyler McNeely singled in the ninth to put the tying runs on base, but ISU would not be able to muster the big hit off of SIU closer Tyler Dray, who picked up his seventh save of the season. Justin Hauer surrendered his first earned run in conference play, but also picked up three strikeouts bringing his Ks per 9 ratio to 16.6 against the Valley.
Game two was far removed from the pitcher’s duel of Friday night, as Illinois State evened up the series with a dramatic 11-9 shoot-out win in ten innings. Down 9-7 in the top of the ninth, Redbird third baseman Ryan Court launched a loud game-tying two-run homer over the left field wall. Court’s homerun seemed to reenergize his team, as freshmen Brock Stewart and Mike Hollenbeck proceeded to hit back-to-back solo homeruns in the top of the tenth to take the wind out of SIU’s sails. Both starters had early exits in the game as ISU freshman Dan Savas only lasted 3.2 innings, giving up eight runs (only three earned however) while SIU starter Cameron Maldonado only lasted four innings, allowing seven runs. Redbird left-fielder Tyler McNeely went 2-5 with a three-run homerun, while SIU right-fielder Nick Johnson went 3-5 with a double and four RBI. Fortunately for ISU, the game came down to a battle of bullpens and the Redbird’s conference best relief corps went 6.1 innings allowing only one run on two hits. Closer Kenny Long (3-1) pitched 3 innings of no-hit baseball to pick up the win.
Riding the momentum from the previous day, Sunday’s finale was all Illinois State as the Redbirds blew open a 3-2 game with three runs in the seventh and two more in the eighth to clinch the series with an 8-2 win. Centerfielder Chad Hinshaw had a 3-5 day, including a two-RBI triple to put ISU ahead 5-2 in the seventh. Redbird starter JD Learnard (7-2) went six innings, allowing just two runs (one earned) on eight hits and a walk while striking out four and the Redbirds bullpen combined for three innings of one hit baseball with four K’s.
ISU – Sr. 3B Ryan Court, 7-14, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, 4 R
SIU – Jr. LF Jordan Sivertsen, 5-13, HR, 3 RBI, 3 R
Creighton at Evansville
During a rain-soaked weekend in Evansville, Ind., the Creighton Jays were able to take two of three on the road against the Purple Aces. Game one of the series started Friday evening and finished Saturday afternoon, ultimately with the Jays winning 2-1 in 12 innings. The Jays used six pitchers to the Aces’ two, with reliever Reese McGraw the only CU pitcher to give up a run. Both Friday night starters were brilliant, with both CU’s Jonas Dufek and UE’s Kyle Lloyd going five scoreless innings, allowing only three hits. However, Dufek walked none and struck out seven while Lloyd walked one and K’d five. Creighton shortstop Jimmy Swift singled in the top of the 12th and advanced to third on an error by Evansville shortstop Eric Stamets with one out. Alex Staehly then laid down the safety squeeze to push the go-ahead run across.
Game two saw more impressive pitching, as the Jays clinched the series with a 4-0 shutout Saturday evening. Sophomore lefty Ty Blach (9-1) shut-down the Aces’ offense, tossing seven scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and three free passes while fanning eight to lead his team to victory. Centerfielder Mike Gerber hit his sixth homerun of the season. Evansville was able to salvage the series with a 10-1 win Sunday, however. Senior Cody Fick went the distance on the mound to pick up his seventh win of the season, and added a 2-4 day at the plate with a double and two runs batted in. Outfielder Jared Baehl and third baseman Ryan Osterle both added two hits while first baseman Shawn Kuester went three for three with three runs scored.
CU – So. LHP Ty Blach, W(9-1); 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 8 K
UE – Sr. RHP Cody Fick, W(7-3); CG, 5 H, ER, 5 BB, 5K; 4-12, 2B, 3 RBI
Bradley at Missouri State: Bears Sweep Braves
Third-place Missouri State helped themselves in the standings, sweeping visiting Bradley over the weekend in Springfield. The Bears had to come back from down 2-0 in game one, but went on to take the series opener by a score of 5-4. BU third baseman Rob Elliot hit a game tying homerun in the top of the seventh to knot things at three, but the Bears retook the lead on an RBI single in the bottom of the inning by Spiker Helms. BU was able to pull within one on a pinch hit homerun by Greg Partyka off MSU closer Dan Kickham, but the reliable closer was able to retire the next three for his 11th save on the season.
The Bears rode some solid pitching from senior Blake Barber to win game two 2-1. Barber (7-3) went eight innings, allowing a run on eight scattered hits, with a walk and five K’s. Kickham picked up his second save in as many days. The Bears completed the sweep, scoring five times in the seventh inning to comeback and beat the Braves again, 7-4. Junior designated hitter Brock Chaffin hit two homers in the game, including one for his team’s first hit of the game, a solo homerun in the fourth that made the score 3-1. In the seventh, down by the same score, second baseman Kevin Medrano lined a two-run single to right-center to tie the game and Chaffin followed up with a three-run bomb to right to put the Bears out ahead for good. Kickham, who picked up his third save of the weekend, tied current Milwaukee Brewer Shaun Marcum’s school record with his 13th save of the season.
MSU – Jr. DH Brock Chaffin, 2-5, 2 HR, 4 RBI
Jr. RHP Dan Kickham 3 SV (13), 3 IP, 2 H, ER, 3 K
Indiana State at Wichita State
In a series that saw some terrific pitching performances from both teams, the Shockers came topped the Sycamores two games to one this weekend in Wichita. Game one was a straight up pitcher’s duel, with ISU’s Colin Rea and WSU’s Charlie Lowell trading shutout innings, before the Shockers would eventually win the battle of the bullpens 1-0. Rea would end up going seven and a third, allowing four hits and four free passes while K-ing seven while Lowell would walk six and surrender two hits while striking out nine through seven. With Chris Machado in the game for the Sycamores, the Shocks struck quickly in the top of the ninth for the games’ only run. Tyler Coughenour singled to start of the inning, immediately stole second and scored the winning run on a Don Lambert walk-off RBI single to right before an out could even be registered. Closer Cale Elam picked up the win in relief.
Game two saw more terrific pitching, this time via Sycamore freshman starter Sean Manaea, who tossed seven shutout innings en route to a 6-0 ISU win. Manaea (5-3) scattered five hits and four walks through seven innings, while tying a career-high with nine strikeouts. And Manaea received run support early on with all six of his team’s runs being scored by the fifth inning. The winning run came via sophomore Robby Ort’s ninth homerun of the season—a solo shot in the bottom of the first.
Sophomore Josh Smith followed with the theme on the weekend in Sunday’s rubber match, tossing 5.2 scoreless innings for the Shockers to clinch the series with a 6-1 win. Wichita gave Smith (6-3) plenty of support, the big blow coming via shortstop Tyler Grimes’ three-run homer—part of a four-run Shockers’ fourth. Reliever TJ McGreevy picked up the 3.1-inning save in relief.
ISU – Fr. LHP Sean Manaea, W(5-3); 7 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 9 K
Jr. RHP Colin Rea ND; 7.1 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 7 K
WSU – Jr. LHP Charlie Lowell ND; 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 6 BB, 9 K