Last week in Missouri Valley Conference baseball action, Wichita State added three wins to its league-best record of 10-3. The Shockers took back-to-back games against Central Arkansas, before shutting out Long Beach State in the first contest of a three-game series with the Dirtbags. Wichita State is ranked No. 25 in the latest (Mar. 15) Collegiate Baseball Newspaper poll, and are also receiving votes (36) in today's USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll.
Evansville finished the week with a 3-2 record, including the league's first win over a ranked opponent, as the Purple Aces knocked off No. 21 Kentucky, 8-4, last Wednesday. Evansville also tallied wins over Morehead State (9-2) and Le Moyne (4-3) in its own Dunn Hospitality Diamond Classic.
Creighton also was a three-game winner, recording wins over South Dakota State (4-2) and Minnesota (6-4) in the Metrodome Tournament in Minneapolis. The Bluejays also topped UT-Arlington in a midweek matchup, 11-5.
Illinois State picked up two wins over James Madison, winning the first in a 5-0 rain-shortened contest, before exploding for 29 runs in a 29-8 debacle on Sunday. The Redbirds' 29 runs scored were the most since tallying 34 against Illinois Wesleyan in 1983.
Indiana State had a light week, taking down Eastern Illinois, 8-2, before falling to Dayton, 8-4, while Bradley picked up one victory in the Irish Baseball Classic, downing Pacific. 10-1.
Southern Illinois squeaked out a 6-5 win over Santa Clara, while Missouri State was swept in a four-game series by Southern Mississippi.
Valley teams are in action five days this week, including matchups with one ranked team. The Bluejays will take on No. 25 Kansas State in a Friday matchup, while three other matchups on tap this week will feature Valley schools battling teams "Receiving Votes" in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll (Mar. 15). The Shockers will take on Arizona (15 points) in a two-game series on Tuesday and Wednesday, before welcoming Washington State (13 points) in a two-game series this weekend. Missouri State will face Oklahoma State (1 point) in Stillwater on Friday and Saturday.
This week's Missouri Valley Conference Baseball Player/Pitcher of the Week are Ryan Jones and Tim Kelley of Wichita State.
MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Ryan Jones, Sr., OF, Wichita State
Ryan Jones led the Shockers to three wins last week. He went 10-for-17 (.588) with five runs, two doubles, two home runs, 11 RBI and three stolen bases. He also walked four times and had a perfect fielding percentage in right field. On Tuesday against Central Arkansas, he went 3-for-3 with five RBI, two doubles and a home run. On Wednesday against UCA, he went 3-for-3 with two runs and a stolen base. On Friday night at Long Beach State, he went 1-for-4 with a big three-run home run to break the game open and on Saturday at LBSU he went 2-for-4 with two RBI. In the final game of the series against the Dirtbags, he went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a stolen base. He finished the week with a hit in all five games.
MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE PITCHER OF THE WEEK
Tim Kelley, Jr., RHP, Wichita State
Tim Kelley led the Shockers to their first shutout of the season on Friday at Long Beach State and earned the win. He pitched eight shutout innings and allowed just four hits with no walks and four strikeouts. He only allowed multiple baserunners in one inning in the game and kept the Dirtbag hitters in check despite working with just a 1-0 lead through the first six innings. He threw only 89 pitches in his eight innings of work.
Noteworthy - In addition to the league's player and newcomer of the week selections, several conference players had notable performances, and they include:
Kevin Sullivan (BU) - Sullivan was 6-for-10 with five runs batted in, four doubles, three walks and two runs scored at last weekend's Irish Baseball Classic in San Antonio, Texas. On Thursday, the senior catcher went 2-for-4 and drove in two runs against Notre Dame. Sullivan added a two-run double against Pacific Saturday and went 3-for-4 with three doubles and an RBI versus Gonzaga Sunday. The last Brave to hit three doubles in one game was Ryan Curry on March 11, 2007 against Tennessee Tech. Sullivan owns a .433 batting average (13-for-30) and has driven in a team-best 11 RBI's.
Trever Adams (CU) - Adams led Creighton to a 3-1 week, batting .556 (10-for-18) over four Bluejay games. He finished with six RBI, three doubles and a home run in putting up a 1.489 OPS. Adams posted at least two hits in all four games, highlighted by a four-hit, two-double effort at UT-Arlington on Wednesday, in which he knocked in four of his RBI. Adams currently leads Creighton in hitting with a .415 mark, and has eight multi-hit games (of the nine he has hits in) on the season.
Trentt Copeland (UE) - Copeland helped lead Evansville to three wins this week, including an 8-4 victory over nationally-ranked Kentucky, by hitting a team-best .389 with three doubles, a home run, and three RBI. Copeland began his week by hitting .429 (3-for-7) with a run scored, a home run, and two RBI in UE's two-game mid-week series at No. 21 Kentucky. Copeland capped UE's game-winning five-run rally in Wednesday's 8-4 victory over the Wildcats with a two-run home run off of UK weekend starter Alex Meyer in the sixth-inning. Copeland then went 4-for-11 in the Dunn Hospitality Diamond Classic over the weekend with a pair of two-hit games and a pair of doubles. Copeland had two hits against both Morehead State and Purdue, while knocking doubles in both games. For the week, Copeland went 7-for-18 at the plate with four of his seven hits going for extra-bases, as he slugged .722 on the week. He also posted a .450 on-base percentage and posted a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage in 17 chances defensively.
Kevin Tokarski (ILS) - After a 3-for-3 performance and finishing a home run away from the cycle in Friday's game against James Madison, Tokarski knocked home runs in each of the next two games - the first of his career. Tokarski led Illinois State with a .550 batting average and .591 on-base percentage last week while knocking eight extra-base hits. The redshirt-sophomore from Downers Grove, Ill., led Illinois State in runs scored (7), hits (11), doubles (5), stolen bases (3) and tied for the team-lead in triples (1), home runs (2) and RBI (9). Tokarski's seven-game hitting streak ended in Tuesday's game against No. 6 Florida, but he clubbed the Redbirds' only two hits in Wednesday's game with the Gators and has hit safely in all four games since. Tokarski was 5-for-6 with seven RBI while leading an Illinois State offensive explosion for 29 runs in Sunday's Kennel Club Classic finale with James Madison, the most runs scored by the Redbirds since 1983. Tokarski leads Illinois State with a .551 batting average and .633 on-base percentage with 15 extra-base hits through 12 games.
Robby Ort (INS) - Ort carried the Indiana State offense over their two games this past week, knocking in the first three runs against Eastern Illinois on Tuesday and tallying an RBI against Dayton on Friday. The freshman outfielder hit .500 (4-8) during the week with a team-best four RBI and two runs scored. Ort places second on the team this season with a .395 batting average and a .579 slugging percentage, while leading the team with 13 RBI.
Aaron Roberts (SIU) - Roberts hit .400 over the week and led the Salukis with eight hits while only striking out once in 20 at-bats. He scored twice as many runs as any other Saluki and had three multiple-hit games over the week. Roberts tied his season-high by driving in three runs in Sunday's game at Santa Clara.
Jacob Booden (BU) - Booden improved to 2-0 this season after pitching 7.0 scoreless innings in a 10-1 victory over Pacific at the Irish Baseball Classic last Saturday. The right-hander scattered six hits, struck out three, walked one and dropped his earned run average from 1.12 to 0.60. Booden leads the Braves in both innings pitched (15.1) and strikeouts (13) this season, with opposing hitters batting a mere .196 off of the 6-foot-8 sophomore.
Jonas Dufek (CU) - Dufek moved to 3-0 with a season-high nine strikeouts against South Dakota State on Friday. The junior hurled 7.2 innings, the first 4.1 of which were perfect, allowing two earned runs on just five hits. He walked none, as his nine strikeouts were a season-high, and one away from matching a career-best. The three wins on the season have nearly matched Dufek's career total, as he entered the season with just four to his name.
Keegan Dennis (UE) - Dennis went 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two appearances and one start this week, spanning 6.0 innings of work. Dennis' week began in relief at Kentucky on Tuesday, as he worked a scoreless inning against the nationally-ranked Wildcats, while striking out two. He then came back three days later and tossed five innings of two-run, three-hit baseball against Morehead State to help UE to a 9-2 victory over the Eagles. Dennis retired the first nine men he face in order against Morehead State, and faced the minimum number of batters through five innings, as he allowed just a single in the fourth inning. Dennis would tire in the sixth inning, being charged with two runs after leaving the contest, but he finished the night striking out six men and allowing just two runs on three hits and a walk in 5.0-plus innings of work. For the week, Dennis gave up just four base hits while striking out eight in 6.0 innings of work. He held both Kentucky and Morehead State to a .190 opponents batting average, and allowed just three men to reach scoring position on the week.
Corey Maines (ILS) - Maines shutout James Madison for six innings before rain and lightning ended Friday's contest at the Kennel Club Classic. The junior from Houston, Texas, struck out three and scattered five hits to help the Redbirds snap a five-game losing streak. Maines gave up just one extra base hit and limited opposing batters to a .227 mark. Maines is 2-0 with a staff-leading 2.49 ERA in four starts for ISU. He's struck out 21 batters in 21.2 innings and held opponents to a .218 average.
Aaron Meade (MSU) - Meade carried a shutout in the eighth inning Friday at Southern Miss and scattered five hits and anearned run with six strikeouts before leaving with a no-decision. Meade left the game with a 2-0 lead and two out in the eighth but was unable to get the win as the bullpen lost the lead for the southpaw. The Golden Eagles, who entered the game hitting .334 as a team, hit .192 against Meade with just one extra-base hit.
Ryan Bradley (SIU) - Bradley only gave up one run in a 6-5 victory over Santa Clara on March 11. His one run surrendered is the fewest by a Saluki starting pitcher this season. Although he did not pick up the decision in the game, he led Southern Illinois to its only victory on the week.
Missouri Valley Conference Upcoming Schedule:
Tuesday, March 16
^Bradley vs. Indiana, 2:00 PM
Indiana State at Saint Louis, 2:00 PM
Evansville at Austin Peay, 6:00 PM
Creighton at Kansas State, 6:30 PM
Arkansas State at Missouri State, 6:30 PM
No. 25 Wichita State at Arizona, 8:00 PM
Wednesday, March 17
^Bradley vs. NJIT, 10:00 AM
Southern Illinois at Murray State, 2:00 PM
Evansville at Saint Louis, 3:00 PM
Arkansas State at Missouri State, 3:00 PM
No. 25 Wichita State at Arizona, 8:00 PM
Friday, March 19
^Bradley vs. Army (DH), 9:00 AM
Western Michigan at Indiana State, 2:00 PM
Missouri State vs. Wright State, 2:30 PM
Central Michigan at Illinois State, 3:00 PM
Northern Illinois at Southern Illinois, 3:00 PM
Creighton at Illinois-Chicago, 4:00 PM
SIU Edwardsville at Evansville, 6:00 PM
Missouri State at Oklahoma State, 6:30 PM
Washington State at No. 25 Wichita State, 7:00 PM
Saturday, March 20
^Bradley vs. Dartmouth, 11:00 AM
Creighton at Illinois-Chicago, 1:00 PM
Western Michigan at Indiana State (DH), 1:00 PM
Central Michigan at Illinois State (DH), 1:00 PM
Northern Illinois at Southern Illinois, 2:00 PM
SIU Edwardsville at Evansville, 2:00 PM
Washington State at No. 25 Wichita State, 2:00 PM
Missouri State at Oklahoma State, 2:30 PM
Sunday, March 21
Washington State at No. 25 Wichita State, 12:00 PM
Western Michigan at Indiana State, 12:00 PM
Creighton at Illinois-Chicago, 1:00 PM
SIU Edwardsville at Evansville, 1:00 PM
Northern Illinois at Southern Illinois, 1:00 PM
Missouri State vs. Wright State, 1:00 PM
Central Michigan at Illinois State, 1:00 PM
^Russmatt Baseball Central Florida Invitational