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Missouri Valley Weekend Recap (April 12th-14th)

MVC_thumb.jpgSweeps were abound this weekend in the Missouri Valley Conference as Indiana State, Wichita State and Illinois State were on the winning ends—while Bradley, Evansville (although playing out of conference) and, more significantly, Creighton were on the losing end. Missouri State and Southern Illinois were the outliers, with MSU taking two of three at SIU.

Indiana State kept their hopes of a regular season championship alive with a crucial, and hard-earned, sweep over visiting Creighton to take third place in the Valley. On the other hand, Creighton, who entered the weekend as the top team in the MVC and ranked in some polls, suffered a significant set-back and now sits in fourth in the standings. Wichita State took advantage of the Jays’ tough weekend to jump into first by outscoring Bradley 32-14 en route to three conference wins. Illinois State and Evansville played non-conference opponents Morehead State and Xavier, respectively, this weekend.

CBD Players of the Week:

Indiana State – 1B Robby Ort, 7-11, 2B, 3B, HR, 5 RBI, 3 R

Wichita State – RHP Cale Elam W(4-1); CG, 5 H, 10 K

Creighton Swept in Terra Haute

Creighton (18-9, 5-4), who started this weekend in first place in the Missouri Valley Conference, took a significant step back after being swept at Indiana State (17-13, 7-5). Senior right-hander Devin Moore (3-3) set the tone for the Sycamores in game one, allowing no earned runs and striking out six in seven innings to lead his team to an opening 6-1 victory Friday evening. On the other side of the mound, CU freshman Tommy Strunc (4-1) was handed his first loss of the season. Strunc struggled from the outset, allowing four runs on five walks and four hits while striking out none in five innings. Senior Robby Ort finished a double short of the cycle while knocking in three runs.

Game two was a much closer affair, with the Sycamores holding on for the 5-4 victory. With a 4-0 lead going into the seventh inning, All-America lefthander Sean Manaea hit a rough patch. After walking the bases loaded, but also striking out two batters, Manaea gave up a two-run single to Jays’ left fielder Brad McKewon. Reliever Kurt Kudrecki came in to relieve Manaea, but with a 5-3 lead in the ninth loaded the bases. Reliever Josh Dove surrendered a one out single to CU third baseman Federico Castagnini, which cut the lead to one. Coach Rick Heller quickly made the move to bring in sophomore Greg Kuhlman who summarily induced a ground-ball double play to end the game. Notably, Sycs’ third baseman Koby Kraemer had three doubles on the day.

ISU took the sweep with another close win, this time 5-3, on Sunday. Creighton took a 3-1 lead going into the bottom of the sixth, which was cut to a one-run lead after an overthrow from Castagnini at third allowed ISU senior Casey McCurdy to score. Junior Mike Fitzgerald then pinch hit for catcher Taylor Steen and put the team ahead with a two-run homer to left-center. Although the Jays managed to get two runners on in the top of the ninth, second baseman Jake Peter grounded out against lefty A.J. McElderry to end the game.

It was the first series win for Indiana State against Creighton at home since 2001.

Notables:

Creighton – CF Mike Gerber, 5-12, 2B, 3B, HR, 2 RBI, R

Indiana State – 1B Robby Ort, 7-11, 2B, 3B, HR, 5 RBI, 3 R

Missouri State Takes Two at SIU

In the only non-sweep on the weekend, Missouri State (6-3, 21-10) took two of three in Carbondale against Southern Illinois (17-18, 2-7). In game one, SIU starter Cody Forsythe managed to keep the Bears off the scoreboard until the seventh inning—before MSU tallied six runs in the final three innings to put the Salukis away 7-3. Forsythe (1-2) lasted just six and two-thirds innings allowing five earned runs on nine hits. Meanwhile, Nick Petree (5-1) struggled initially allowing a run on three hits in the first inning, before settling down. Appearing human for the first time all season, Petree finished with three earned runs on eight hits in seven innings of work.

Saturday’s game appeared to be a barn-burner with a score of 5-5 after the second inning. But while the Bears kept tacking on the runs, the Salukis just couldn’t get the big hit, stranding runners in every inning except the sixth (when they went down in order). Although SIU out-hit Missouri State 16-14, they eventually lost 14-6. Southern Illinois also didn’t do themselves any favors in the field, committing a season-high five errors, resulting in six unearned runs for their pitching staff. As Saluki head coach Ken Henderson, who was ejected in the fifth inning, put it, “We didn’t do a very good job on the mound and we weren’t good on defense…We just weren’t very good today.” Missouri State second baseman Eric Cheray had a four-hit day while let fielder Keenen Maddox added two doubles and three RBI for the bears. Seven Salukis had at least two hits, while cleanup hitter Austin Montgomery added his fourth homerun of the season. Remarkably, MSU freshman starter Jonathan Harris (7-0) continued his consecutive wins streak to start his career, despite allowing six earned runs on fourteen hits in six and two-thirds innings.

To their credit, the Salukis managed to put away what was most likely their worst game of the season immediately and rebound for a win in the series finale. This time, SIU did find the timely hits and battled their way past the Bears 8-5 to prevent the sweep.

Missouri State has a tough mid week ahead of them as they welcome #26 Oklahoma State on Tuesday, hoping to avenge their 5-4 loss in extras earlier this season, and then head to in-state rival Mizzou on Wednesday.

Notables:

Missouri State – LF Keenen Maddox, 7-14, 2 2B, 5 RBI, 3 R

Southern Illinois – RF Austin Montgomery, 5-13, HR, 4 RBI, 3 R

Wichita State Blows Past Bradley

The Shockers (21-16, 7-2) managed a seemingly easy sweep against the Braves (11-19, 1-8) in Peoria this weekend, and with it take the top place in the MVC. In a frigid game one (temperatures got as low as 35 degrees) the bats of both the Braves and Shockers seemed to freeze as the game saw a total of 27 strikeouts. Shockers’ starter Cale Elam (4-1) had a career night on Friday tallying 13 K’s in the first complete game shutout of his career. Bradley starter David Koll had the unfortunate fate of having to go head-to-head with Elam and although he notched 10 Ks of his own allowed a run on 6 hits to suffer his fourth loss of the season.

Bradley appeared to have game two in the bag, but suffered a catastrophic collapse at the end of the game—allowing three runs in the ninth and four in the tenth to go down by a score of 10-6. After walking Cody Bobbit to lead of the inning, Braves reliever Andy Johnson appeared to be cruising for the finish line after tallying back-to-back Ks. However, four walks, three stolen bases, two wild pitches, a double and a new pitcher later, the Shockers had tied up the game at 6-all. In the top of the tenth, Bobbit again earned the leadoff walk and this time immediately scored on a double by Garrett Baliff to cross the plate with the go-ahead run.

What started in the ninth inning of game two continued into game three, as the Shockers run-ruled the Braves 18-8 to take the sweep. The game appeared close after three innings, with WSU leading the Braves 9-7. However, five runs in the fifth and four in the eighth put the Braves away for good. Four Shockers had 3+ hits in the game. Centerfielder Micah Green had four RBI, only to be outdone by shortstop Eric Harbutz who had six RBI.

Notables:

Bradley – LHP David Koll L(1-4); 6.2 IP, 6 H, ER, BB, 10K

Wichita State – RHP Cale Elam W(4-1); CG, 5 H, 10 K

CF Micah Green, 8-14, 2 2B, 3B, 6 RBI, 7 R, 2 SB

Evansville Drops Close Series to Xavier

Evansville (14-22, 5-4) dropped all three closely contested games this weekend to visiting A10 foe Xavier (18-15) by a combined four runs. Down 9-0 in game one, the Aces rallied in the seventh and eighth innings by scoring seven runs—thanks in large part to a Kevin Kaczmarski grand slam. However XU closer Alex Vice sent the Aces down in order in the bottom of the ninth to pick up his third save of the season and seal the 9-7 win.

Game two saw a comeback from Xavier, who this time overcame a 2-0 deficit to take their second win of the series, 3-2. After tying the game in the sixth, the Musketeers took the lead on a two-out single from senior Stephen Schoettmer. Vice stymied an Aces rally in the eighth and pitched a scoreless ninth for his fourth save.

Game three was again was a battle, as Xavier again came out on top, 4-3, this time thanks to a three-run homer in the seventh from centerfielder Daniel Rod. Vice picked up his fifth save of the season.

Notables:

Xavier – RHP Jon Richard W(5-2); 6.0 IP, 5 H, 5 K

CP Alex Vice 3 SV(5); 3.0 IP, 2 H, 3 K

Evansville – CF Kevin Kaczmarski 4-13, HR, 4 RBI, 2 R, 2 SB

Illinois State Sweeps Visiting Morehead St.

Illinois State (19-15, 3-3) welcomed non-conference opponent Morehead State (9-27, 4-12) to Normal this weekend by taking all four from the slumping Eagles. Morehead State, who came into the weekend with an RPI ranking of 261 and losers of their last nine straight games, were greeted by the Redbirds with an 11-1 run ruling win in game one. In game two, ISU starter Dan Savas (5-0) pitched a complete game (seven innings) shut-out allowing just two hits, three walks and striking out six to cement a 4-0 victory in the first game of a double-header. The Redbirds followed this up by scoring nine-runs in game two of the double-header, led by first baseman Kyle Stanton who had 5 RBI in the game.

Morehead made things interesting in game four, scoring three runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game, but Eric Aguilera sent his team home with the sweep by knocking a walk-off single to right in the bottom of the inning.

Notables:

RHP Dan Savas W(5-0); CG(7), 2 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K

LF Sean Beesely 9-13, 6 R, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 7 SB

RF Eric Aguilera 8-15, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 R