Indiana State produced back-to-back late inning rallies to take down Wichita State for the second straight game, this time in come-from-behind fashion. Illinois State's Tyler McNeely smashed a three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth to break open a tie game and send the Redbirds to their second consecutive walk-off win over Southern Illinois, 6-3. Bradley scored eight runs in its final three innings to even the series with Creighton, as the Braves topped the Bluejays, 8-4. In Saturday's lone non-conference contest, Evansville knocked off Arkansas State for the second-straight night. 7-4.
INDIANA STATE 5, WICHITA STATE 4
INS (23-9, 5-3 MVC); WSU (21-13, 7-4 MVC)
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - The Indiana State University baseball team scored two runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh to secure another come from behind win, taking the second game of the Missouri Valley Conference series, 5-4, over the Wichita State University Shockers at Bob Warn Field in front 461 fans.
Senior Joe Rodriguez (4-1) picked up the victory for the Sycamores on Saturday, tossing 7.2 innings on the mound, striking out a season-high 10 batters while scattering eight hits and allowing four runs. A pair of relievers assisted Rodriguez and ISU in the victory, as senior Scott Harlan got the Sycamores out of a jam in eighth inning, before freshman Tyler Browning saved his second straight game and seventh of the season, striking out a pair of batters to shut down a Wichita State ninth inning rally.
Indiana State (23-9, 5-3 MVC) got on the board first on Saturday, plating a single run in the bottom of the third inning. Senior Ben Ferrell knocked a double into the right-center field gap with two outs to begin the rally, would move over to third on a wild pitch by WSU starter Tim Kelley and cross the plate on a single by fellow senior Ryan Strausborger. The single by Strausborger extended his hit streak to 17 games. Strausborger would steal second base later in the inning, extending his streak of consecutive games with a stolen base to nine.
Wichita State (21-13, 7-4 MVC) did all of their scoring in the following two innings, with a two-run home run by Cody Lassley in the fourth and RBIs from Johnny Coy and Lassley in the fifth, for a 4-1 Shocker lead.
The Sycamores answered back in the sixth and seventh innings, also scoring a pair of runs in each frame.
ISU loaded the bases in the sixth inning, with Strausborger being hit by a pitch, sophomore Kyle Burnam singling through the middle of the infield and freshman Robby Ort drawing a walk. Freshman Jake Hartley and senior Tyler Graham tallied RBIs after that, with Hartley drawing a bases loaded walk and Graham driving in Burnam with a sacrifice fly to left field to cut the Wichita State lead to 4-3.
Freshman Jeremy Lucas led off the following inning with a double to right-center and would tie the score by crossing the plate on an RBI single from Ferrell. Burnam drove in the eventual game-winning run, knocking in Ferrell from second with a single through the left side of the infield to put ISU up 5-4.
The Shockers attempted rallies in both the eighth and ninth innings, but Harlan and Browning stood strong and did not allow any more WSU runs to secure the win.
Burnam, Lucas and Ferrell all picked up a pair of hits at the plate on Saturday, with each going 2-4 at the dish.
Lassley and Coy led WSU at the plate, with Lassley going 3-4 with a two-run homer and three RBI and Coy recording a pair of doubles.
The Sycamores and Shockers play the final game of their series on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Junior Jason Van Skike (3-0, 4.15 ERA) will take the mound for ISU against WSU's Josh Smith (3-2, 4.54 ERA).
ILLINOIS STATE 6, SOUTHERN ILLINOIS 3
ILS (17-15, 7-1 MVC); SIU (16-19; 5-6 MVC)
NORMAL, Ill. - Tyler McNeely's three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning broke open a tie game and sent the Redbirds to their second consecutive walk-off win over Southern Illinois, 6-3, at Duffy Bass Field Saturday afternoon.
Illinois State entered the ninth inning trailing 3-2, but a pair of one-out base hits by Brett Kay and Kevin Tokarski, and a misplayed ball in right field tied the contest. After Jake Thornton was intentionally walked, McNeely ended the game by hitting the ball over the centerfield wall, and lifted Illinois State (17-15, 7-1 MVC) to its fifth straight Missouri Valley Conference win. The win, coupled with Friday night's 6-5 walk-off win, clinches Illinois State's third Valley series win to start conference play and keeps the Redbirds in first place.
Both teams received strong outings from their starting pitchers. For Southern Illinois (16-19, 5-6 MVC), Nathan Forer struck out five and limited Illinois State to two runs despite allowing seven hits in 6.1 innings pitched. Illinois State's Brad Sorkin pitched a career-best 7.1 innings while holding the Salukis to three runs on three hits. The freshman from Buffalo Grove, Ill., walked four batters in the game.
Southern scored first, plating a single run in the second inning after leadoff hitter Nick Johnson was hit by a pitch and moved from first to third on a single by Michael Stalter. Brock Harding grounded into a fielder's choice, but was able to push Johnson across.
Illinois State's Anthony Ruffolo, who was 3-for-3 in the game with a walk, evened the score with a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth inning. It was Ruffolo's sixth home run of the season, and second of the series. After Southern moved ahead again with a single run in the top of the sixth, the Redbirds rallied again, this time on a single through the left side by Tokarski to score Kay in the bottom of the seventh.
Sorkin walked Chris Murphy with one out in the top of the eighth and was lifted after the Saluki centerfield stole second base. Kenny Long entered the game for the Redbirds and induced a weak ground ball past the pitcher's mound but the only play for Tokarski, Illinois State's second baseman, was to throw to first and allow the go-ahead run to score. Long struck out Chris Serritella to end the eighth, one of three strikeouts for Long in 1.2 innings pitched.
Saluki reliever Lee Weld worked around a leadoff single by Ruffolo in the eighth inning to post a scoreless frame and struck out Ryan Court to lead off the bottom of the ninth before running into trouble. Kay drove a ball back up the middle for his third hit of the contest and scored from first after a single by Tokarski was bobbled by Johnson in left field. Illinois State catcher Matt Mirabal flied out to left for the second out of the ninth and Thornton was walked to get to McNeely, who had entered the game as a pinch runner for Ruffolo in the eighth. Weld's first pitch to McNeely was a strike and the second was sent out of the park.
Ruffolo (3), Kay (3) and Tokarski (2) all had multiple hits for the Redbirds, who out-hit the Salukis 11-3. Murphy scored twice for Southern Illinois and was 1-for-2 in the game with two walks. ISU's Long (3-2) earned the win in relief for the second-consecutive game.
The series concludes Sunday at 1 p.m. with Illinois State's Ryan Camp (4-3, 8.67 ERA) expected to start against Southern Illinois' Randy Hoelscher (2-2, 9.76 ERA).
BRADLEY 8, CREIGHTON 4
BU (11-18, 4-7 MVC); CU (15-13, 4-7 MVC)
PEORIA, Ill. - Bradley (11-18, 4-7 MVC) overcame a two-run deficit with eight runs in the final three innings for an 8-4 Missouri Valley Conference victory over Creighton Saturday night at O'Brien Field. The win was Bradley's fourth come from behind victory in the last five games.
Sophomore right-hander Jacob Booden and Creighton starter Brandon Koenigstein were locked in a pitcher's duel until the top of the fifth, when the Bluejays plated a run on a wild pitch to take a 1-0 edge. Creighton added an unearned run in the sixth on an errant throw by senior first baseman Mike McMillan to make the score 2-0.
The Braves answered in the bottom half with three runs on three hits to take their first lead of the evening. Senior second baseman Matt Fritz was hit by a pitch to start the inning and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore third baseman Rob Elliott. A single by junior outfielder Brian Martin scored Fritz to pull the Braves within one, 2-1. Bradley's next two hitters, senior catcher Kevin Sullivan and sophomore designated hitter Brad Kimball, followed with back-to-back singles. Kimball's knock plated Martin from second and moved Sullivan to third. Freshman Mike Tauchman capped the inning with a sac fly to center that scored Sullivan and gave the Braves a one-run lead, 3-2.
Creighton used another Bradley defensive miscue in the seventh to tie the game at 3-3, but the Braves quickly regained the lead with two runs on three hits in the bottom half, including an RBI triple by Fritz, to make the score 5-3. The Bluejays plated their third unearned run of the game in the eighth to pull within one, 5-4.
Kimball led off the bottom of the eighth with a double down the left field line. Freshman Christian Segar entered the game to run for Kimball and moved to third on a groundout by Tauchman. After a strikeout by Creighton reliever Matt Patterson, McMillan redeemed himself with a two-out RBI double to left center on the 12th pitch of his at-bat. Freshman shortstop Jason Leblebijian followed with a double down the right field that scored McMillan and gave the Braves a 7-4 lead. Elliott added an RBI single to make the score 8-4.
Junior right-hander Patrick Cooper pitched a scoreless ninth inning to preserve the victory, 8-4.
Martin, Kimball, McMillan and Leblebijian each had two hits, while senior right-hander Kori Jensen earned his fourth win of the season with 2.0 innings of relief work.
Bradley and Creighton will wrap up the three-game series Sunday at noon.
Other Non-Conference Scores Around the Valley:
Evansville 7, Arkansas State 4