The start of Missouri Valley Conference play was marked as it always seems to be: with a winter snow storm. All the teams in the Valley rushed to finish their series before Sunday (with the notable exception of Wichita State who had the fortune of playing in Hawaii—and ironically had Sunday’s game rained out). In the first weekend of conference play, Creighton took two of three on the road at Evansville, while Indiana State proved they will be a tough team to beat this season by taking all three from visiting Southern Illinois. Out of conference, Illinois State dropped their series to Eastern Illinois, Bradley lost their two games against Dartmouth in Florida, and although their basketball team is on a tear this March, the Wichita State baseball team struggled through their road series at Hawaii, picking up just one win in their four game series. Missouri State had the weekend off.
CBD Missouri Valley Players of the Week:
RF Eric Aguilera, 10-15 (6-hit game), 2B, 5 RBI, 3 R
Southern Illinois – LHP Cody Forsythe ND; 8.0 IP, 2 H, BB, 7 K
Indiana State Sweeps Salukis
The Sycamores (11-7, 1-0) continued their hot streak into conference play by sweeping Southern Illinois (9-14, 0-3) at home. Game one witnessed another dominating pitching performance from junior Sean Manaea (3-1), as the Sycamores dispatched SIU 8-1. The lefty starter gave up just two hits over seven innings, walking two and striking out eight. Offensively, the Sycs were led by senior Robby Ort, who went 2-4 with 4 RBI. Third baseman Koby Kraemer contributed two doubles as well. Game two saw even more outstanding pitching, this time from both teams. Southern Illinois veteran lefty Cody Forsythe threw eight two-hit shut-out innings, walking just one and striking out seven. For ISU, senior starter Devin Moore was more than up to the challenge and went nine innings of two-hit baseball, walking one and K-ing three. The game ended on a walk-off bases loaded hit by pitch by Mike Fitzgerald, ending the game at 1-0. In the finale, ISU scored six runs in the eighth inning to take the series with an 8-4 win.
Southern Illinois – LHP Cody Forsythe ND; 8.0 IP, 2 H, BB, 7 K
Indiana State – RHP Devin Moore ND; 9.0 IP, 2 H, BB, 3 K
Creighton Takes Series at Evansville
The Creighton Bluejays (12-5, 2-1) hit the road for their first weekend of conference play, taking on the Evansville Purple Aces (9-14, 1-2). The Jays took game one thanks to superior pitching, in part from freshman starter Tommy Strunc (4-0). Strunc allowed just one earned run on six hits in six innings and struck out seven. On the other side of the mound, Evansville starter Kyle Freeland (2-4) had control issues, allowing eleven hits and five walks in just six and two-thirds innings. Six different Jays had two-hit games as CU went on to win 6-1. The Aces rebounded in game two behind solid pitching from senior Kyle Lloyd (3-2) as UE picked up a 4-1 victory. Lloyd went seven innings allowing one run on five hits, two walks and seven strikeouts. Jake Naumann picked up his fifth save of the season. In game two of Saturday’s doubleheader, the Jays received 6.2 innings of shut-out baseball from their bullpen to hold of the Aces and take the series with the 6-2 victory. Centerfielder Mike Gerber and first baseman Reagan Fowler led the way offensively for the Jays with three hits apiece.
Creighton – 1B Reagan Fowler, 7-12, 2B, 3 RBI, R, SB
Evansville – RHP Kyle Lloyd W(3-2); 7.0 IP, 5 H, ER, 2 BB, 7 K
Wichita State Routed by Hawaii
The Shockers (12-11) continued their west coast road trip by traveling to Honolulu for a five game set (which would become four games after Sunday’s was rained out) against Hawaii (5-16). The Rainbows, who came into the series with just two wins on the series, would leave with three wins to WSU’s one. In game one, Hawaii opened up a 1-1 ballgame thanks to a bases clearing triple from right fielder Connor George. This would be more than enough for starter Connor Little (1-3) who scattered seven hits over eight innings and struck out four in the 6-1 victory. In game two, three Hawaii hitters had three-hit games, as the Rainbows topped the Shocks 7-3. George had another big game, picking up three RBI in addition to his three hits. The Shockers rebounded in game three however as first baseman Johnny Coy went 4-4 with 3 RBI in a 6-2 WSU win. Starter Cale Elam (2-1) gave a gutsy performance, battling through some control issues to go eight innings allowing just two runs. Hawaii finished the series with a dominating 7-0 win on Saturday. Rainbows starter Matt Cooper (2-2) gave a superior performance, tossing seven and two-thirds scoreless innings, scattering eight hits, walking none and striking out ten.
Wichita State – DH Johnny Coy, 6-12, 2B, 3 RBI, R
Hawaii – RHP Matt Cooper W(2-2); 7.2 IP, 8 H, 10 K
Illinois State drops Two to Eastern Illinois
Illinois State (11-11, 0-0) unceremoniously re-opened Duffy Bass Field this season by dropping two of three to Eastern Illinois (6-15). The Redbirds dropped the opener 9-5 after the Panthers scored six unanswered runs coming back from down 5-3. Redbird reliever Otto Roberts came in for starter Dan Savas in the seventh inning, but could not register an out, getting tagged for three runs and the loss. Eastern third baseman Brant Valach led the way with a three hit day, and the relief duo of Ben Kennedy and Scott Houdek managed to toss 5.2 scoreless innings to seal the victory. The two teams split Saturday’s double-header with the Panthers taking game one in extra innings, but getting blown out in the nightcap 18-3. Despite a pitcher’s duel through nine innings, the Panthers scored five runs in the top of the tenth inning to knock-out the ‘Birds. Easter starter Joe Greenfield went eight a third innings pitching out of trouble multiple times (he gave up eleven hits) to keep his team close. On the other side, senior starter Brad Sorkin went nine innings allowing just two earned runs and striking out four (Sorking came out to start the tenth but was chased from the game). Panthers first baseman Treysen Vavra led the way with a 4 RBI day for his team. In game two it was all Redbirds however, as ISU scored 15 runs in the final four frames to end the weekend. Third Baseman Zac Johnson had a five hit day, only to be outdone by right fielder Eric Aguilera who had a six hit game.
RHP Brad Sorkin L(4-2); 9.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 4K
3B Zac Johnson, 9-16, HR, 2 2B, 7 R, 3 RBI
RF Eric Aguilera, 10-15, 2B, 5 RBI, 3 R
Bradley Plays Two against Dartmouth, Loses Both
Despite playing in Florida, even Bradley (9-11, 0-0) could not escape weather woes as two of their four games against Dartmouth (11-1) were rained out. In game one, the Braves registered 14 hits, but surrendered 18 as the Big Green won out a slugfest 11-8. Shortstop Tyler Leffler tallied four hits and both he and centerfielder knocked in three runs. In game two, senior Mike Tauchman went two for four with a home run and 4 RBI, but Dartmouth took advantage of three Bradley errors to win out 7-4.
LF Mike Tauchman, 4-8, HR, 4 RBI, 3 R, 2 SB
SS Tyler Leffler, 5-9, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 2 R