An exciting weekend of Missouri Valley conference play is in the books as each series saw it’s teams square off in closely contested match-ups. Perhaps the most exciting was Missouri State and Illinois State’s Friday night opener, in which starters Nick Petree and Chris Razo exchanged strike-outs down the stretch before Petree was ultimately handed his first loss of the season. Perhaps the most controversial was Creighton’s opening game win over Bradley which saw a critical play at the plate, and a not completely unexpected ejection thereafter. Southern Illinois and Evansville saw their own pitchers’ duel on Friday night as starters Kyle Freeland and Cody Forsythe both went nine innings in a finish that would need extras to decide it. Meanwhile, Indiana State rescued a sweep at the hands of Wichita State after Sean Manaea, who was scratched from his Friday start, was able to pick up the win on Sunday.
College Baseball Daily Players of the Week:
Southern Illinois – LF Wes Neece, 5-9, HR, 3B, 2 2B, 4 RBI, 3 R
Illinois State – RHP Chris Razo W(2-0); CG, H, ER, 4 BB, 10 K
Illinois State Shuts down Bears, take two from MSU
Illinois State (14-15, 3-3) set out this weekend with something to prove, or so it seemed. After dropping last weekend’s series to Wichita State and getting rolled by Eastern Illinois on Wednesday, the Redbirds appeared a different team in their first two games against Missouri State (19-8, 4-2). On Friday, phenom Nick Petree and ISU senior Chris Razo squared off against each other in what could be the best pitchers duel all season. Up 1-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth, Petree allowed a leadoff single to catcher Mike Hollenbeck followed by a one out single to freshman Paul DeJong. With two outs, shortstop Brett Kay hit a sharp bouncing ball to third. MSU third baseman Joey Hawkins fielded it cleanly, but airmailed the throw to first allowing two runs to score. This would be the deciding tally, as Razo, who was electric all night, proceeded to completely shut-down the Bears hitters. After striking out the first batter in the ninth, MSU catcher Luke Voit walked and took second on a wild pitch. However, Razo bore down to strike out the next two batters swinging to end the game. Razo finished with a complete game one-hitter, allowing just one hit and four walks while striking out ten to get his second win of the season, while Petree was saddled with his first loss of the season.
Game two saw more solid pitching from the Redbirds, as redshirt Sophomore Dan Savas gave the Redbirds eight shut-out innings, allowing just two hits. Right fielder Eric Aguilera added his second home run of the season as the Redbirds cruised to the 6-0 victory. The finale went to the Bears however, as coach Keith Guttin put the ball in the hands of trusted freshman Jon Harris who, as he has all season, delivered. Harris cruised through the first seven innings allowing just one run, before running into some trouble in the eighth. However, the Bears offense came alive in game three, led by Koby Peebles’ 3 RBI and a homerun from center fielder Tate Matheny—who continues his torrid freshman campaign this season—to outpace the Redbirds and finish the series with an 8-3 victory. Harris picked up his MVC-leading sixth win of the season.
Missouri State – RHP Nick Petree L(4-1); 7.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R (0 ER), 8 K
Illinois State – RHP Chris Razo W(2-0); CG, H, ER, 4 BB, 10 K
Creighton Continues to Roll with Sweep against Bradley
Creighton (18-6, 5-1) continued its hot conference play be sweeping Bradley (11-16, 1-5) this weekend—although not easily. In game one, the Jays managed to come back from down two runs to top the Braves 5-4. Armed with a 2-0 lead, freshman righty Tommy Strunc kept the Brave scoreless through six innings. However, the Braves were able to get Strunc’s pitch count up early and after hitting a batter to begin the seventh, coach Ed Servais had to make a move to the bullpen. Relievers Nick Highberger and Mark Winkelman struggled however, and five hits and four runs later, the Braves had the lead. The Jays would not wait to get back on the board however, and the next half-inning began to rally. With two on, pinch hitter Jordan Makovicka hit a ground ball that skipped through the legs of first baseman Derek Sprout, allowing two runs to score. After a walk, Federico Castagnini hit the first pitch he saw to the right side. As Makovicka rounded third, Bradley’s Brady Wilkin reached the ball in short right field and came up firing. Both the throw and Makovicka reached home plate at the same time, with Makovicka ultimately being declared the victor—much to the displeasure of Braves pitcher Andy Johnson who was subsequently thrown out for voicing his disagreement with the call. Relievers Bryan Sova and Jake Peter pitched perfect eighth and ninth innings respectively to seal the win.
Game two was another closely contested battle, yet the Jays were able to come out on top again. Down -1 going into the fifth inning, the Braves were able to load the bases and pick-up an RBI walk before reliever Mark Lukowski came in to the game for starter Nick Musec. After getting two quick outs, Lukowski allowed all the inherited runners to score on a Mike Tauchmann triple to right. However, after that Lukowski shut down the Braves, finishing with five shut-out innings of relief to pick up his fourth win of the season and secure the 7-5 victory for CU. Both Castagnini and shortstop Alex Staehely added three hits on the day. The Jays finished the sweep with a 7-3 victory on Sunday by outhitting the Braves 11-6. Leadoff hitter Brad McKewon led the Jays’ offense going 3-4 on the day with two RBI and two runs scored.
Bradley – LF Mike Tauchman, 3-12, 3B, 6 RBI, R
Creighton – 3B Federico Castagnini, 6-11, 4 R, 2 RBI, 3 BB, SB
Wichita State Takes Two from Visiting Sycamores
After dropping two close, hard fought games at home to #22 Arizona State during the week, Wichita State (18-15, 4-2) was able to rebound this weekend by taking two of three from visiting Indiana State (13-13, 4-5). In game one, junior Cale Elam shut down the Sycamores going seven innings, allowing just one unearned run on three hits, three walks and six Ks. Johnny Coy’s two RBI single in the third proved to be the deciding blow as the Shocks would win 4-1.
Coy did even more damage in game two, as his three-run homer powered the Shockers to an 11-3 win. First baseman Casey Gillaspie added two doubles along with 3 RBI in the rout. Indiana State would be able to salvage Game 3 however, as junior Sean Manaea, who was scratched from Friday’s start due to a hip injury, took the mound and gave the Sycamores six shut-out innings. With a 4-run lead before he even took the mound, Manaea scatted just five hits, fanning nine and walking none in his six innings of work. The Sycs took a 7-0 lead into the ninth before running into trouble. With one run already in, juco transfer Sean Moore sent a pinch-hit three run homer over the left-field fence to make the score 7-4. It was the first hit in his D-1 career. Back-to-back doubles brought the Shockers to within two, but ISU closer Kurt Kudrecki was able to get the final three outs and pick up his second save of the season.
Indiana State – 3B Koby Kraemer, 7-10, 3 2B, 3 R, RBI
Wichita State – RHP Cale Elam W(3-1); 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K
Southern Illinois Drops Series at Evansville
Southern Illinois (14-16, 1-4) and Evansville (14-18, 5-4) started their series off as would be expected with Kyle Freeland and Cody Forsythe taking the mound. Both pitchers went nine innings allow two earned runs on seven hits. It’s hard to say that one “bested another,” with Freeland notching six Ks, but walking two while Forsythe struck out four and walked none. While from the beginning it was evident that the stalemate between the two pitchers would not end until after both had left the game, I don’t think many would have thought it would take until the tenth inning to do so. Yet after Aces’ closer Jake Naumann pitched a scoreless tenth, SIU mistakes allowed UE leadoff hitter David Patton to reach third before eventually scoring on a ground ball single from senior Jason Hockemeyer and end the game 3-2.
Evansville was able to take a back-and-forth game two by the score of 5-4. Down 4-3 in the eighth (due mostly to SIU leftfielder Wes Neece who had an RBI double and homerun in the game), Evansville’s Nick Hathcoat tied the game with a single up the middle. With runners on first and second, centerfielder Kevin Kaczmarski registered his fourth hit of the game, a double off the right field wall, that scored Hathcoat with the go-ahead run. That Aces’ bullpen provided four innings of scoreless relief and Jake Naumann picked up his sixth save of the season.
SIU was able to hit their way to their first conference win of the season, notching twenty hits in a 13-5 game three victory. The game was 6-5 after three innings, however the SIU bullpen managed 6.1 innings of scoreless reliever, allowing just three hits the rest of the game. Six Salukis had three-hit ballgames, five had two RBI games and junior Ryan Casillas had a three RBI game.
Southern Illinois – LF Wes Neece, 5-9, HR, 3B, 2 2B 4 RBI, 3 R
Evansville – CF Kevin Kaczmarski, 6-13, 2 2B, RBI, R