In a repeat of Friday's outcomes, Illinois State, Wichita State and Bradley came out victorious again on Saturday, clinching the series win for each squad. The Redbirds clinched their first series win over Creighton since 2001, and the first in Omaha since 1986, behind a solid pitching performance by Brad Sorkin. The Shockers got out to an early lead and hung on to top the Salukis, 9-1, while the Braves won their first series over the Bears since 2000 with a 6-4 victory in Peoria.
In Saturday non-conference action, Indiana State evened the series with The Citadel, taking game two by a score of 11-7, while Evansville fell in the final contest of its three-game series with Dallas Baptist, 8-2.
ILLINOIS STATE 5, CREIGHTON 2
ILS (14-14, 4-1 MVC); CU (14-11, 3-5 MVC)
OMAHA, Neb. - Brad Sorkin scattered three hits and held Creighton scoreless through 6.2 innings while pitching Illinois State to a 5-2, series-clinching win over the Bluejays at CU Sports Complex Saturday afternoon. The win secured Illinois State's first series win over Creighton since 2001, and first series win against the Blujays in Omaha since 1986.
Sorkin didn't allow more than two runners on base until the sixth inning and never let a runner past second base while shutting out the Jays until he left in the seventh with two outs. Illinois State (14-14, 4-1 MVC) pushed across five runs on 13 hits to take a 2-0 lead in the weekend series with Creighton (14-11, 3-5 MVC). Sorkin and Illinois State reliever Cam Verbeke combined to strike out four batters in the seventh - one reached on a dropped third strike - and were one out away from a shutout before pinch-hitter Joey Bowens tripled with two on and two outs in the ninth off Kenny Long.
Kevin Tokarski led off the game with a double and after a sacrifice bunt by Chad Hinshaw, was driven in on a single by Jake Thornton for the game's first run. It was the first of three hits for Thornton, and the first of two runs Tokarski would score in the contest.
Illinois State added two more runs in the fourth after back-to-back hits by Ty Wiesemeyer and Ryan Court to lead off the inning set up RBI situations for Zach Amrein and Chad Hinshaw. Amrein pushed across Wiesemeyer with a sacrifice fly and Hinshaw singled in Court after the Bluejays intentionally walked Tokarski to get the freshman to the plate. The Redbirds scored two more runs on Creighton starter Brandon Koenigstein (3-1) in the sixth to take a 6-0 lead.
Sorkin (3-1) faced just one over the minimum through the first three innings and two over the minimum through five. The freshman from Buffalo Grove, Ill., fanned two batters in the first three innings but relied on his defense by inducing five ground balls through the first three innings. Sorkin got a lift from his catcher Matt Mirabal, who caught Trever Adams trying to swipe second in the first inning, and got a 6-4-3 double play after walking the leadoff man in the second.
Zane Hinkel doubled with two outs in the third inning for Creighton's first hit, and later reached second in the sixth inning after being hit by a pitch and moving over on a wild pitch. He was the only Bluejay player to reach second safely in the contest. Sorkin induced another double play ball with two runners on in the sixth. Court fielded the chopper at third, stepped on the bag and threw across the diamond to end the inning. Court had five assists in the game, including a throw from his knees after diving to the left to end the eighth.
Sorkin struck out three in the seventh - the third reaching on a dropped third strike - and left the game after reaching his pitch count. Verbeke entered the game and struck out Ian Dike, the only batter he faced in the game. Long pitched a scoreless eighth and retired the first two batters of the ninth before walking two batters. Bowens replaced Dike and cracked a bases clearing triple before Clay Cuno flied out to left to end the game.
Thornton (3), Court (2), Tokarski (2), Anthony Ruffolo (2) and Ty Wiesemeyer (2) all had multiple hit games for the Redbirds. Wiesemeyer's double to lead off the fourth was his first hit as a Redbird.
Adams had two of three hits for Creighton off Sorkin. Hinkel and Bowens also had hits for the Bluejays. The series concludes Sunday at 1 p.m., with left-handed freshman Ty Blach starting for Creighton against an undetermined starter for Illinois State.
WICHITA STATE 9, SOUTHERN ILLINOIS 1
WSU (21-9, 7-1 MVC); SIU (15-16, 4-4 MVC)
WICHITA, Kan. - Wichita State got out to a hot start for the second game in a row, building a big lead and hanging onto it to clinch the series victory against the Southern Illinois Salukis, 9-1.
For the second game in a row, the Shockers (21-9, 7-1) got the bats going early. On Saturday afternoon, WSU put a four-spot up in the team's first trip to the plate and wouldn't need more than that, although the Shocks weren't done for the day.
Senior outfielder Ryan Jones led the charge at the plate, going 3-for-3 that included a two-run opposite field bomb. Junior designated hitter Preston Springer chipped in four more RBI during his 2-for-4 effort.
For the Salukis (15-16, 4-4), just three hitters collected all but two of Southern Illinois' hits. Second baseman Blake Pinnon posted a three-hit performance to pace the offense. Left fielder Nick Johnson notched the Salukis' only RBI when he was hit by a Tim Kelley (5-1) pitch with the bases loaded.
Kelley (5-1) became the first Shocker pitcher to five wins this season after a seven-inning, one-run performance. The redshirt junior surrendered eight hits, walked one and struck out seven on Saturday. Right-hander Nick Forer (1-2) took the loss for SIU. After giving up six runs - just one earned - in the first two innings, the Saluki starter settled in and threw four scoreless innings.
Kelley allowed two hits on two pitches to start the game, but didn't let the Salukis get any further from there. A strikeout and a come-backer ended the threat. Had Kelley not worked himself out of the early jam, however, his offense would have done so for him.
Two Saluki errors aided a four-run Shocker first. Another SIU miscue in the Shockers' following at bat allowed Jones an earlier trip to the plate. He capitalized on the opportunity. With the wind on his side, Jones smacked an opposite-field home run to left, giving the Shockers the 6-0 lead heading into the third.
A leadoff single from center fielder Chris Murphy, a one-out walk and another single loaded the bases for Southern Illinois in the top of the third. After Johnson was hit by a pitch to bring Murphy home, Kelley struck and flew out the next two batters to end the threat.
Kelley finished the seventh before handing the 6-1 lead over to senior reliever Cobey Guy for the eighth and ninth innings. The Shocker bats gave Guy some support, as well. In the bottom of the eighth, freshman Nate Goro crushed a one-out double to the right field corner and scored on freshman second baseman Walker Davidson's base knock. Springer's single to right posted the last two runs of the game to give the Shockers the 9-1 victory.
The final game of the series is set for Sunday at 1 p.m.
BRADLEY 6, MISSOURI STATE 4
BU (8-17, 2-6 MVC); MSU (12-18, 1-4 MVC)
PEORIA, Ill. - Bradley (8-17, 2-6 MVC) scored five of its six runs with two outs, including three in the bottom of the seventh, for a 6-4 Missouri Valley Conference victory over Missouri State (12-18, 1-4 MVC) Saturday afternoon at O'Brien Field.
Senior catcher Kevin Sullivan put the Braves up 1-0 in the first with a two-out single to left field that scored sophomore third baseman Rob Elliott. Missouri State tied the game in its half of the second, but Bradley answered with another two-out run in the bottom half to regain the lead. After two quick outs, senior first baseman Mike McMillan singled up the middle and scored on a double by freshman shortstop Jason Leblebijian to make the score 2-1.
The Bears plated two runs on three hits in the fifth to gain a 3-2 edge, but Bradley responded by stealing a run in the bottom half to tie the score. Elliott reached on an error by Missouri State shortstop Travis McComack, stole second and advanced to third on an infield single by junior outfielder Brian Martin. With Sullivan at the plate, Martin attempted to steal second, but was caught in a rundown. The speedy junior survived in the pickle long enough for Elliott to score from third to tie the game at 3-3.
Missouri State regained the lead in the sixth on an RBI single by Kevin Medrano and held its 4-3 edge until the bottom of the seventh. Leblebijian reached on an error to start the inning, stole second and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by senior second baseman Matt Fritz. With the Missouri State infield drawn in, Elliott grounded a ball to McComack and Leblebijian broke for home. McComack fired to the plate just in time to retire the Bradley freshman and preserve MSU's one-run lead.
With two outs in the seventh and Martin at the plate, Elliott swiped his third base of the day to move into scoring position. Elliott's speed paid off, as Martin doubled to right-center field to tie the score at 4-4. The Braves then used back-to-back doubles by Sullivan and sophomore designated hitter Brad Kimball to plate two more runs in the inning for a 6-4 lead.
Junior right-hander Patrick Cooper entered the game for Bradley in the eighth and held Missouri State hitless in the final two innings to preserve the win, 6-4.
Martin, Sullivan, McMillan and Leblebijian each had two hits for the Braves, while Sullivan finished with two RBI's, including the game-winner. Senior right-hander Kori Jensen earned the win for Bradley, allowing three runs on six hits in 3.1 innings of relief work. Cooper picked up his first save of the season.
The Braves and Bears will wrap up their three-game set Sunday, April 11 at 1 p.m.
Other Saturday Non-Conference Scores from Around the Valley:
Indiana State 11, The Citadel 7
Dallas Baptist 8, Evansville 2