A pair of doubleheader splits, one home victory and one road win was the tale of the tape in Saturday Missouri Valley Conference baseball action. Evansville, Indiana State and Southern Illinois claimed their first league victories of the season, as the Purple Aces took a road contest at Missouri State, while the Sycamores split with Illinois State and the Salukis took one of two over Creighton. Wichita State remained perfect with an 11-8 win over visiting Bradley.
EVANSVILLE 6, MISSOURI STATE 4
UE (11-13, 1-1 MVC); MSU (8-14, 1-1 MVC)
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - University of Evansville juniors Greg Wallace and Cody Fick combined for six of UE's nine hits on Saturday, including back-to-back RBI base-hits to key a three-run seventh-inning rally by the Purple Aces which propelled UE to a 6-4 victory over the Missouri State Bears at Hammons Field in Springfield, Missouri.
Wallace began UE's three-run rally in the seventh inning with a two-out, two-run single through the right-side of the Missouri State infield, and advanced to third on a throwing error by the Bears on the play. Fick then followed with an RBI base hit to score Wallace and give UE a 6-4 lead.
Senior closer Tom Heithoff then worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning, and worked around a lead-off single and walk to strike out the side in the ninth inning to preserve the victory and earn his fourth save of the year.
Missouri State jumped to an early 3-0 lead in the first inning, as catcher Luke Voit hit a wind-aided three-run home run to left field off of UE starter Sam Johns. Johns would settle down though and not allow another run until the sixth inning, while striking out seven men. In the meantime, Johns' teammates were able to tie the game at 3-3 with a two-run fourth inning thanks to an RBI single by Wallace and a sacrifice fly by junior Ty Legan and an unearned run in the fifth inning.
After the Bears took a 4-3 lead in the sixth inning on back-to-back doubles by designated hitter Beau Stoker and third baseman Curt Courtwright, UE responded with three runs in the seventh inning to grab the 6-4 lead. A one-out hit-by-pitch and hit-and-run single put two runners on, and after a sacrifice bunt by freshman shortstop Eric Stamets moved the runners up 90 feet, Wallace gave UE a lead it would never lose with his two-run single. Then, Fick followed with an RBI single to complete the scoring for the afternoon.
Wallace produced his eighth-straight multi-hit game and extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a 3-for-5 performance at the plate, two runs scored, and three RBI. Fick also went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Second baseman Kevin Medrano went 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored to lead Missouri State offensively.
The victory went to senior reliever Corey Davisson (2-1) with 1.1 innings of one-hit, scoreless relief. Missouri State starter Pat Doyle (1-5) took the loss by surrendering six runs (four earned) on seven hits in 6.2 innings of work.
With the victory, Evansville evens the three-game series at one game apiece, while improving to 11-13 overall and 1-1 in the Missouri Valley Conference. Missouri State, meanwhile, falls to 8-14 overall and 1-1 in the Valley with the loss. The two teams will conclude the series on Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m.
WICHITA STATE 11, BRADLEY 8
WSU (13-7, 2-0 MVC); BU (6-11, 0-2 MVC)
WICHITA, Kan. - The Shockers (13-7, 2-0 MVC) endured the cold, the misty rain and a resilient Bradley lineup on Saturday and still came out on top, winning the second of their opening Missouri Valley Conference series, 11-8.
Senior outfielders Ryan Jones and Bret Bascue led the Shocker offense, each tallying three RBI on Saturday afternoon. Jones did so by way of a 2-for-3 performance while Bascue went 1-for-2 at the plate.
Clint McKeever went 2-for-4 with three runs scored and two RBI in the win.
Junior right-hander Tim Kelley (3-1) nabbed the win on the hill, scattering 10 hits and allowing four runs in his six innings of work.
Kevin Sullivan went 2-for-5 for the Braves with a run scored and three RBI. Mike Tauchman was 2-for-4 from the dish with a run scored and two RBI while Rob Elliott was 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
McKeever delivered the big blow for the Shockers in the bottom of the first inning as WSU responded with a five-run first after the Braves jumped out on top 1-0 in the top of the inning.
The Shockers looked to put the game out of reach in the second inning as WSU plated four more runners, increasing their lead to 9-1. Jones and Bascue each delivered two-RBI hits in the inning for Wichita State.
Bradley came back with two runs in the third inning and added another run in the fifth. The Braves continued to battle back in the seventh inning as they cut the WSU lead to 11-8 thanks in part to a two-run home run by Sullivan.
Logan Hoch and Remington Johnson took over from there as the duo closed out the Braves to seal the win.
Nate Goro went 2-for-4 with an RBI for WSU.
The Shockers will look for the sweep on Sunday as WSU hosts the Braves for the finale beginning at 12 p.m.
CREIGHTON 2, SOUTHERN ILLINOIS 1 (Game 1)
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Needless to say, Ian Dike was struggling. The senior strolled to the plate in the seventh scuffling, with zero hits, and seven strikeouts in his last 10 at-bats.
With two outs and Jimmy Swift on first, Dike busted out of his funk. His RBI double off Nathan Forer led the Bluejays (12-5, 2-0 MVC) to a 2-1 win over the Salukis (9-14, 0-2 MVC), Saturday afternoon at Abe Martin Field.
Both pitching staffs put together gems, as Brandon Koenigstein (3-0) needed just 75 pitches to earn his third win of the season. The sophomore hurled seven innings, allowing an unearned run on five hits.
Jack VanLeur retired the Saluki three, and four-hole hitters in order to post his fourth save on the season.
Forer was also up to the task, throwing seven solid innings of his own. He allowed just five hits, surrendering two runs, one earned, while striking out five.
Dike's double came with two out in the seventh, as he muscled a line drive into the teeth of a strong wind. His shot down the right field line scored Swift from first for the game-winning run.
Trever Adams and Alex Staehely record two-thirds of the Bluejay hits, as both had two hits. Adams was 2-for-4 with two singles, while Staehely had two doubles.
A quick two-out spurt put the Jays up 1-0 in the first. An Adams single past the feet of feet of Forer and a passed ball by Tyler Bullock put Adams on second. T.J. Roemmich then shaved Forer's shoelaces again, with an RBI-single for the first CU run.
The Salukis benefited from a Creighton error in the fifth to square things at one. Bullock's chopper to second ate up Staehely, to start the frame. After Nick Johnson reached on a fielder's choice and stole second, a Brock Harding single through the middle scored him for the first SIU run.
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS 5, CREIGHTON 4 - 11 Innings (Game 2)
SIU (10-14, 1-2 MVC); CU (12-6, 2-1 MVC)
CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois baseball team split its Saturday doubleheader with Creighton at Abe Martin field, winning the second, 5-4, in 11 innings.
Game two was another low-scoring affair that had three ties and went into extra innings.
Southern Illinois had a 4-3 lead heading into the top of the ninth, but Creighton right fielder T.J. Roemmich hit a two-out RBI single to bring home Alex Staehely for the tying run.
Both teams went three-up and three-down in the 10th inning. The Jays were retired in the top of the 11th and Tyler Bullock led off the Saluki bottom half with a single to right center. Freshman Wes Neecepinch-ran for Bullock and was moved over to second base on a sacrifice bunt from Nick Johnson and later to third on a wild pitch.
Creighton's Bobby Lackovic got the second out on a strikeout, setting up the two-out drama.
Saluki senior shortstop Michael Stalter was due up, and he came to the plate with zero hits in his 11 at-bats in the series up to that moment. He had a 2-2 count when he fisted a pitch into center field and the ball dropped cleanly to allow Neece to score the winning run.
Southern Illinois senior right-handed pitcher Bryant George (4-1) picked up the win in game two. Left-handed pitcher Randy Hoelscher threw five innings for the Dawgs in his fifth start of the season. He gave up just six hits and had three strikeouts in his strongest outing on the year.
Lackovic (3-2) picked up the loss for Creighton in game two.
Serritella led the Salukis in the second game with two hits and those two runs driven in. Southern Illinois as a team had nine hits and were assisted by three Creighton errors.
Southern Illinois hosts UT Martin on Tuesday, March 30 at 3 p.m. before welcoming in Bradley for a three-game series at Abe Martin Field, April 2-4.
ILLINOIS STATE 8, INDIANA STATE 7 (Game 1)
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Matt Mirabal drove in two runs in the top of the ninth inning and Kenny Long pitched a scoreless bottom half to earn his third save in three games as Illinois State rallied past Indiana State, 8-7, while clinching a Missouri Valley Conference series win at Bob Warn Field Saturday. The Sycamores took the second game, 9-3.
Mirabal, who collected a career-high five RBI in the contest, singled up the middle with the bases loaded in the top of the ninth inning to erase a one-run deficit and put Illinois State (11-10, 2-1 MVC) on top before Long struck out two and worked out of a bases loaded jam in the ninth to close the out the win over the Sycamores (14-7, 1-2 MVC).
Kevin Tokarski was 3-for-3 in the game and scored four times off the bat of Mirabal in the first game, including the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth. Illinois State trailed Indiana State, 7-6, heading into the final frame but caught a break on a dropped third strike to leadoff batter Josh Colon. Tokarski and Chad Hinshaw both reached on walks setting up Mirabal's screamer up the middle, his third hit of the game.
Indiana State scored five runs in the second inning off Illinois State starter Ryan Camp, but the Redbirds chipped away at the lead with single runs in the third and fourth innings, and a three run outburst to tie the game at 6-6 in the sixth. Jim Sajewich held the Sycamores in check through four innings of relief, but was tagged with an unearned run in the bottom of the seventh, setting the scene for the late inning rally. JD Learnard pitched a scoreless eighth inning and collected his first collegiate win.
Ryan Strausborger and Ben Ferrell each had three hits in the loss for Indiana State, part of a 12 hit effort from the Sycamores. Joe Rodriguez struck out six in eight innings for Indiana State before leaving with the lead. Tyler Browning was tagged with the loss out of the bullpen.
In the second game, Tokarski clubbed three more hits and scored two runs but the Redbirds couldn't mount another comeback after falling behind during another second-inning explosion for Indiana State. The Sycamores plated four runs in the second off Redbird starter Ryan Copeland and knocked 17 hits total while salvaging the split.
Tokarski walked and was driven in by Jake Thornton in the fourth inning to cut the lead to 4-1, but the Sycamores answered with two more runs in the bottom half of the inning. Tokarski led off the seventh inning with a double and was driving in by Mirabal, one of two runs for the Redbirds in that inning, but again, the Sycamores answered with a pair of runs in the bottom half. Indiana State added another run in the eighth to complete the scoring.
Tokarski went 3-for-3 in the second game to cap a 6-for-6 day at the plate. He scored six runs total and reached in all 10 plate appearances. Tokarski, a redshirt sophomore, swiped three bases in the first game and moved into third place on the Illinois State career stolen base chart with 49 career stolen bases. Mirabal had two more hits in the second game, for a five-hit day at the ballpark.
Indiana State's Jason Van Skike earned the win after scattering six hits over 6.1 innings. He struck out six and surrendered all three runs - though one was unearned. Strausborger was 4-for-5 in the second game, one of five Sycamores with multiple hits. Kyle Burnam and Grant Grgurich each had three hits for Indiana State.
The Redbirds return home Tuesday night for a midweek match-up with in-state rival Illinois at Duffy Bass Field, starting at 6 p.m.
INDIANA STATE 9, ILLINOIS STATE 3 (Game 2)
INS (14-7, 1-2 MVC); ILS (11-10, 2-1 MVC)
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - The Indiana State University baseball team picked up its first Missouri Valley Conference win of the season after splitting a pair of games on Saturday with the visiting Illinois State University Redbirds at Bob Warn Field in front of 229 fans.
In game two, the Sycamores again took an early lead, but were able to hold the lead for the remainder of the game to win 9-3 in the nightcap.
Indiana State plated four runs in the bottom of the second inning to take the early lead. Lucas led off the inning with a single and moved to third on a single to right-center by Grgurich. Freshman Jordan Pearson drove in his fellow West Vigo High School alum, Lucas, with an RBI bunt single down the third base line. Grgurich and Pearson would move up a base on a sacrifice bunt by Ferrell and would both cross the plate on a triple to left-center field by Strausborger. Burnam came to the plate next and drove in Strausborger with a sacrifice fly to center field to make the score 4-0 in favor of the Sycamores.
The Sycamores tallied two more runs in both the bottom of the fourth and seventh innings to stay out in front of the Redbirds in game two. Burnam and freshman Robby Ort knocked RBI singles in the fourth while Grgurich hit a two-RBI single in the seventh with the bases loaded. Indiana State tacked on one more run in the bottom of the eighth when Graham drove in Burnam with an RBI double.
Junior Jason Van Skike (3-0), senior Kevin Mann and Harlan combined to limit the Redbirds to seven hits in the second game. Van Skike started the game and tossed the first 6.1 innings on Saturday, allowing three runs (two earned) while striking out six.
On the day, Strausborger led Indiana State at the plate, going 7-10 with a pair of doubles and a triple. Strausborger, Ferrell and Burnam all tallied three RBI each, with Strausborger also scoring four runs.
The Sycamores will wrap up their March homestand on Tuesday with a non-conference matchup with the Cougars of Chicago State. First pitch on Tuesday is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. at Bob Warn Field.