Wichita State found themselves one win away from clinching their first regular season MVC title since 2010 with, but poor fielding and lack of hitting came back to haunt the Shockers who lost two of three to Creighton this weekend at Eck Stadium. As a result, the Shockers (who are now done with conference play) go into the last weekend of the season with a final conference record of 15-6. Thanks to the Shockers’ two losses this weekend, the Illinois State Redbirds leapfrogged into first place with a series win against visiting Evansville. The Redbirds dropped their opener in a pitchers’ duel 3-2, but came back to outscore the Aces 31-7 in the last two games—run-ruling UE twice to take the series. The Shockers loss is now the Redbirds opportunity as the door is open for Illinois State to take the regular season title, and an all-important number one seed in the tournament, if they can take all three in their final series against Southern Illinois. The Salukis will be looking to make sure that does not happen and with their sweep this weekend against last place Bradley have given themselves a chance at a 6th place finish if they can string together at least two more wins this season. Elsewhere in the conference, Missouri State played a non-conference series against Wright State and Indiana State swept visiting Alcorn State.
Looking ahead to the remaining series next weekend, Missouri State and Creighton, who both sit at 11-7 in the standings, will have a chance to steal second place in the Valley if one team can manage (however unlikely) a sweep against the other. Evansville has finished conference play with an even 10-10 record (one of their games against Indiana State was cancelled) and can finish no worse than fifth place (realistically). This is because even if Indiana State sweeps Bradley in their final series (which is a real possibility) and finishes tied with Evansville for fifth at 10-10, the tie-breaker (which would usually be head-to-head record but since they tied at 1-1 in the regular season that becomes negated) would be total runs scored, in which Evansville has an insurmountable lead–241 runs for UE versus 190 for the Sycamores. So unless Indiana State manages to score 51 runs in their series against Bradley, which is unlikely considering the Sycs’ are hitting a league-worst .246 as a team, Evansville has the fifth seed all locked up.
College Baseball Daily MVC Players of the Week:
Illinois State – RF Eric Aguilera, 7-11, 2 2B, 7 RBI, 5 R, 2 BB
Missouri State – RHP Nick Petree W(8-1); CG; 3 H, ER, BB, 10 K
Shockers Drop Two to Creighton; Finish Year at 15-6
Errors came back to hurt Wichita State (31-24; 15-6) in their first two games against Creighton (28-14; 11-7)–two games which would have allowed the Shockers to clinch their first regular season championship since 2010. In game one, a bases-loaded fielding error by shortstop Erik Harbutz allowed the Jays to plate four runs in the bottom of the fourth. The Jays would go on to add another two on an error in the sixth inning from Shockers second baseman Tanner Dearman. The Shockers mounted a rally in the ninth inning, making it a one-run game on RBI singles from Garrett Bayliff and Taylor Doggett. With two outs and first baseman Casey Gillaspie up, Ed Servais went to his bullpen and called on Bryan Sova who summarily induced Gillaspie to flight out to center and secure the 6-5 victory. Shockers’ starter Cale Elam was saddled with the loss going 5.2 innings while getting tagged for six runs (only two earned). His record dropped to 5-3 on the season with the loss. Credit is due to junior lefthander Albert Minnis, who did all he could to keep his team in the game pitching 3.1 innings of one-hit baseball and striking out seven.
In game two, the Jays again capitalized on an error from the Shockers shortstop to strike first and take a 1-0 lead in the fifth. The Jays would add two more in the sixth which proved more than enough for the duo of Nick Musec and Mark Lukowski. Musec (2-5) went five innings allowing just one run on two hits despite walking six batters. Lukowski picked up his first save of the year with a four innings of scoreless, two-hit baseball. Despite earning the loss, Shockers’ start AJ Ladwig perhaps gave the best start all series for either team. Ladwig allowed just two earned runs in 5.2 innings pitched while striking out seven. The Shockers again received some fantastic relief pitching, this time from lefthander Aaron LaBrie who tossed 3.1 innings of scoreless baseball and striking out four. But it turned out to be too little too late for the Shockers as they went on to lose by a score of 3-1.
The Shockers were able to salvage a win on Sunday–and give themselves a chance at the top seed in the tournament–behind a strong pitching performance from freshman Garrett Brummett. Brummett (3-0) went six innings, surrendering one run on four hits and striking out three. At the plate, Dayne Parker had a three-hit day and the Shockers as a team stole six bases to run past Creighton 4-1. Junior Brandon Peterson picked up his ninth save of the season in relief.
Creighton – RHP Nick Musec, W(2-5); 5.0 IP, 2 H, ER, 6 BB, 4 K
Wichita State – Bullpen (Minnis, LaBrie, TJ McGreevy, Peterson): 9.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 14 K
Redbirds Take Two from Evansville, Retake First
Illinois State (33-18, 13-5) helped themselves with two big wins this weekend against visiting Evansville (21-31, 10-10) at Duffy Bass field. The Redbirds would have had three wins and more firm lead in the standings had it not been for Aces’ senior starter Josh Biggs who piloted his team to a 3-2 win Friday night. Biggs (1-2) picked up his first win of the season by allowing two runs on six hits in six innings and striking out a career-high nine batters. On the mound for the Redbirds, Friday night starter Chris Razo was uncharacteristically wild, walking five, but surrendered just three runs in eight innings to keep his team in the game. Evansville scored all three runs early, with the eventual go-ahead run coming in the third inning on a Shain Showers RBI double. ISU scored two in the fifth, but the duo of Sam Johns and Jake Naumann shut out the Redbirds for the rest of the game. Naumann picked up his eighth save on the year.
The final two games were a far different story for the Redbirds, however, as Illinois State scored 31 runs in fourteen innings en-route to two run-rule wins to take the series. On Saturday, the 1-4 hitters on Illinois State tallied 11 RBI and third baseman Zac Johnson added his team-leading seventh homerun of the season as the Redbirds went on to win by a score of 17-3. Evansville’s best pitcher this season, Kyle Lloyd, struggled out of the gate, walking five and allowing eight runs in just 2.2 innings. This was a sign of things to come for UE as they used six pitchers on the day and issued 12 free passes to the Redbirds in the game. For the Redbirds, junior Dan Savas improved to 8-0 with his third complete game of the season. Senior Chad Hinshaw also stole his 105th career base, tying him for the school record with former teammate Kevin Tokarski. In Sunday’s finale, the Redbirds managed to score six runs in the seventh inning to walk-off with a 14-4 victory. Redshirt sophomore Brock Stewart went 3-4 on the day with a career-high five RBI and senior Eric Aguilera was 4-5 with three RBI—including a walk-off bases-loaded single to end the game. In all, the 4-7 hitters for the Redbirds combined for 12 hits and 10 RBI on the day. Sophomore Kyle Freeland (3-8) continued his struggles on the mound, allowing eight earned runs on 10 hits in five innings. Ironically, the only homeruns in the game came from Purple Aces Kevin Kaczmarski (5) and Jason Hockemeyer (1).
Evansville will play their last game of the regular season Tuesday at home against Western Kentucky.
Evansville – LHP Josh Biggs, W(1-2); 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 9 K
Illinois State – RF Eric Aguilera, 7-11, 2 2B, 7 RBI, 5 R, 2 BB
Southern Illinois Manage Close Sweep of Bradley
Southern Illinois (24-27, 6-12) rolled into Peoria this weekend and picked up three hard fought wins against last place Bradley (16-28, 1-17)—who saw their MVC losing streak extend to 15 games. The Salukis opened the series Friday with a 6-2 win thanks to a five-run sixth inning. Senior Cody Forsythe (3-4) was dominant on the mound, going eight innings allowing two runs on eight hits and a walk while K-ing 8. Bradley senior Mike Tauchman continued his awesome season at the plate with a 4-4 day with two runs scored. The Salukis again had a big inning in game two, plating seven runs in the fourth inning en route to a 9-7 victory. Bradley’s pitchers were not helped out by their defense, which managed four errors in the game resulting in six unearned runs. Bradley still managed to tag SIU starter Sam Coonrod for five runs and a no decision, but the trio of Matt Murphy, Tyler Dray and Todd Eaton were able to hold on for the victory. Murphy improved to 4-4 on the season with the win and Eaton picked up his eighth save. Tauchman went 2-3 with two stolen bases.
Bradley’s losing streak appeared to finally be over as the Braves took a five run lead into the ninth inning of Sunday’s finale. Bradley took a 7-0 when they were able to capitalize on two SIU errors in the fourth inning which led to five runs. The Braves also finally had a solid starting pitching performance, as freshman Peter Resnick was given the ball for his first collegiate start. Resnick went 5.1 innings allowing just two runs on six hits and three walks. Yet, as has been their downfall all season, the Braves could not pitch at the end of the game. Eliot Ashbeck was nearly perfect for three innings and came out to start the ninth when the wheels fell off. Pinch hitter Brock Harding led off the inning with a doubled which was followed immediately by a two-run homerun from pinch hitter Derek Trovillion. After a walk to Jake Welch, senior Wes Neece and junior Matt Jones notched back-to-back doubles to make it a one-run game. After Ashbeck was relieved, the Salukis went ahead on a two-run double from centerfielder Rennie Troggio. Todd Eaton managed to stymie a Bradley rally in the bottom of the ninth by getting senior Josh Camalick to hit into a double play. Tauchman was 3-5.
Southern Illinois – LHP Cody Forsythe, W(3-4); 8.0 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, BB, 8 K
Bradley – LF Mike Tauchman, 9-12, 2 2B, 6 R, 2 RBI, 5 SB
Indiana State Sweeps Alcorn State
Indiana State (21-22, 14-6) spent its non-conference series sweeping SWAC opponent Alcorn State (15-39). Junior Sean Manaea struck out eleven in game one, allowing just one earned run on three hits and a walk. However, errors allowed the Braves to take a 4-1 lead into the ninth inning. With one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, sophomore Connor McClain sent a pitch right back up the middle for two runs, which was followed by an RBI single from Casey McCurdy to tie the game. Landon Curry promptly skied a fly ball to center which allowed McClain to tag up and score with the winning run, 5-4.
The Sycs’ hit their way past Alcorn State in game two, as seniors Robby Ort and Koby Kraemer combined for nine RBI in the 14-2 route.
In game three, the Sycamores made things interesting by waiting until the final three innings to score nine runs and win by a final of 10-1. Redshirt sophomore Greg Kuhlman had an impressive performance on the mound, allowing just one run on two hits and a walk in six innings while fanning nine. It was Kuhlman’s third win of the season.
Indiana State finishes up the regular season with a three game set against Bradley at home starting Thursday.
1B Robby Ort, 7-13, 3B, 6 RBI, 5 R, 4 SB
LHP Greg Kulman, W(3-1); 6.0 IP, 2 H, ER, BB, 9 K
LHP Sean Manaea, ND; 7.0 IP, 3 H, ER, BB, 11 K
Missouri State Takes Two from Wright State
The Bears (29-19, 11-7) took two from visiting Wright State (21-26) over the weekend at Hammons field. Nick Petree was overpowering in game one, going the distance allowing just one run on three hits and striking out ten. Freshman Tate Matheny had a four-hit day including two RBI as the Bears went on to win by a score of 6-1.
MSU received another strong pitching performance, this time from freshman Matt Hall, as the Bears went on to win 3-1 and clinch the series. Hall (5-3) went 6.1 innings scattering six hits and surrendering one run, while walking two and fanning six.
Wright State managed to take Sunday’s finale, coming back from down 4-1, to score four runs off Bears’ reliever Zach Merciez and win by a final of 6-4. MSU received another strong start from a freshman starter, this time in the form of Andy Cheray who went seven innings allowing just one run on five hits and K-ing six. The Raiders rallied in the eighth inning by putting together three straight singles with one out in the inning. With the score 4-2, WSU center fielder Mark Fowler legged out a two-run triple into the right-center gap to tie the game, and then scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly. Reliever Travis Hissong picked up his second victory of the season in relief for the Raiders.
RHP Nick Petree W(8-1); CG; 3 H, ER, BB, 10 K
1B Spencer Johnson, 7-10, 2B, 3 RBI, R