In MVC baseball action, the Redbirds evened the score with the Shockers, while the Sycamores and Bluejays clinched series victories with wins on Saturday. Illinois State's Ryan Court belted three home runs as the Redbirds run-ruled Wichita State, 18-8, while Indiana State scored five runs in the first inning and never looked back, topping Missouri State, 10-3. Creighton stranded 16 Evansville batters to churn out a 7-3 victory over the Purple Aces.
In Saturday non-conference action, Southern Illinois topped SIU Edwardsville, 4-2, while Bradley won both games in a doubleheader against Calumet - taking the first game 31-4, and the second game, 6-0.
ILLINOIS STATE 18, WICHITA STATE 8 (8 innings)
ILS (21-17, 9-2 MVC); WSU (28-16, 9-5 MVC)
NORMAL, Ill. - Ryan Court hit three home runs, including a walk-off blast with one out in the bottom of the eighth to push Illinois State to its first ever run-rule victory over the Wichita State, 18-8, at Duffy Bass Field Saturday. The win evened the series at one game each and sets up a deciding game three Sunday at 1 p.m.
Court, who entered the week hitting just .250, tallied five hits in the contest and became the first Redbird to homer three times in a game since Scott Bialobreski in 2003. Court's two other base hits were doubles, bringing his number of total bases to 16 in Saturday's contest. He has eight hits in the last three games to raise his average to .277. Illinois State (21-17, 9-2 MVC) pounded out 18 hits and scored the team's most runs ever and largest margin of victory against Wichita State (28-16, 9-5 MVC).
The Redbirds hit a season-high five home runs, with Tyler McNeely and Anthony Ruffolo also leaving the yard, but it was a two-RBI double by Brett Kay that put Illinois State in front after both teams dueled to an 8-8 tie after the top of the sixth. Zach Amrein and Tyler McNeely drew a pair of two-out walks in the bottom of the sixth and Kay drove them both in with a ball just out of the reach of left fielder Brett Bascue near the warning track. Leading 10-8, Illinois State added two more runs on base hits by Chad Hinshaw and Matt Mirabal before the third out was recorded.
Illinois State added two more runs in the seventh on solo home runs by Court and McNeely, and ended the game with four runs in the eighth after a three-run shot by Ruffolo and Court's final blast.
Ryan Copeland (3-4) earned the win after striking out five Shockers in three innings of relief. Copeland allowed one run, but combined with Cam Verbeke to strike out 10 in 5.2 solid innings from the Redbird bullpen. Verbeke's five strikeouts were a new career-best. Brad Sorkin started for Illinois State and threw a scoreless first inning thanks to a caught base runner and pick off at first by Mirabal, and allowed just one run in the second before being tagged with six in the third.
Illinois State leadoff hitter Kevin Tokarski reached base five times and set a new career steals mark for Illinois State with a pair of stolen bases. Tokarski stole the 55th base of his career in the first inning to tie Mark Prior for the all-time lead and swiped second as part of a double steal in the third inning for No. 56. Seven total Redbirds recorded multiple hit games.
Grant Muncrief (1-3) took the loss for the Shockers after allowing the go-ahead runs to reach in the sixth. Preston Springer led the Shockers at the plate with a 2-for-4 effort and three RBI. Will Baez, Cody Lassley and Travis Bennett each tallied two hits also for Wichita State.
Sunday's game will start at 1 p.m. with JD Learnard (2-2, 6.67) pitching for ISU against Wichita State's Tim Kelley (6-2, 5.37).
INDIANA STATE 10, MISSOURI STATE 3
INS (29-12, 8-5 MVC); MSU (17-24, 3-8 MVC)
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - The Indiana State University baseball team plated five runs in the bottom of the first inning and never looked back on a rainy Saturday at Bob Warn Field at Sycamore Stadium, defeating the visiting Missouri State University Bears by a score of 10-3 in front of 511 fans.
Senior Joe Rodriguez (5-1) picked up the victory on Saturday, tossing six innings on the mound while striking out eight batters, scattering five hits and allowing three runs. Six Sycamores took the mound against the Bears, with the combination of Rodriguez, junior Brett Merkley, senior Scott Harlan, sophomore Brandon Flora, sophomore Brandon Dorsett and freshman Tyler Browning forcing Missouri State to leave 15 runners on base during the game.
Indiana State (29-12, 8-5 MVC) broke the game open early, scoring five times in the bottom of the first frame. Senior Ryan Strausborger led off the inning with a single through the right side of the infield before moving to third on a double by sophomore Kyle Burnam. Senior Luke Fieser came to the plate next and grounded out to third, but the ball hit off MSU third baseman Curt Courtwright's glove letting Fieser reach on an error and allowing Strausborger to score from third. The play continued as the ball bounced to MSU's Travis McComack at short who attempted to get Burnam moving up from second to third, but the throw was out of Courtwright's reach and went into the Sycamore dugout, pushing Burnam home and Fieser to second base.
After freshman Robby Ort drew a walk, fellow freshman Jeremy Lucas picked up an RBI with a single through the left side of the infield to score Fieser from second. A walk by senior Tyler Graham loaded the bases, before junior Phil Liniger and senior Grant Grgurich tallied back-to-back RBI ground outs to put ISU in front 5-0 after one inning.
Missouri State (17-24, 3-8 MVC) got on the board in the top of the second inning, with designated hitter Tyler Paxson scoring on a bases loaded ground out by MSU catcher Brett Marshall.
ISU came back with three more runs in the bottom of the third inning, taking advantage of another error by the Missouri State defense. With one out, the Sycamores placed a perfect hit-and-run play together to put Graham at third and Liniger on first base. Grgurich delivered the first run of the inning on a ground out to second base. ISU put runners back on the corners with a single by senior Ben Ferrell, bringing Strausborger to the plate. Both Liniger and Ferrell would score to give ISU an 8-1 lead when McComack's throw from the hole between second and third went over the head of the MSU first baseman when attempting to get Strausborger at first base.
After the Bears cut the lead to 8-3 after the top of the seventh inning, the Sycamores scored two of their own in the bottom of the eighth on RBIs from Strausborger and Burnam.
Strausborger, Burnam, Lucas and Ferrell all picked up a pair of hits on Saturday, with Grgurich tallying two RBIs on ground outs.
The Sycamores will look for the series sweep on Sunday, with junior Jason Van Skike (3-1, 4.09 ERA) taking the mound against MSU's junior south paw Aaron Meade (1-3, 3.70 ERA). First pitch is set for 1:00 p.m. at Bob Warn Field and can be heard live on ESPN Radio AM 1130 & 1300.
Indiana State will also be honoring eight seniors on Sunday, as Ben Caple, Ben Ferrell, Tyler Graham, Grant Grgurich, Scott Harlan, Kevin Mann, Joe Rodriguez and Ryan Strausborger will all be playing their final games at Bob Warn Field. Senior Day festivities will begin approximately 30 minutes prior to first pitch.
CREIGHTON 7, EVANSVILLE 3
CU (21-17, 8-9 MVC); UE (23-19, 5-6 MVC)
OMAHA, Neb. - Creighton pitchers stranded 16 Evansville runners on base, as the Bluejays clinched their first Valley home series win with a 7-3 victory over the Purple Aces, Saturday afternoon at the CU Sports Complex.
Six different Bluejays had an RBI, with Scott Thornburg and Ian Dike posting two hits. Thornburg and Joey Bowens both had two runs, as Bowens contributed a controversial, game-saving catch in center field in the top of the eighth inning.
The Aces (23-19, 5-6 MVC) left the bases loaded three times on the afternoon, the last coming in the eighth with the Bluejays leading 7-3.
With two outs, Tom Heithoff launched a ball to straight away center that looked destined to clear the bases. Bowens crashed into the wall, making a catch that was originally ruled a trap against the wall, as three Evansville runs scored. After the umpires convened, the play was overturned and the three runs were negated, with the score going back to 7-3.
The Jays (21-17, 8-9 MVC) led throughout, but got some breathing room with a two-out rally in the seventh. T.J. Roemmich posted his second triple in as many games as Carson Vitale brought him home with an RBI-single. Ian Dike then shot the first pitch he saw into the gap in left-center for the four-run Creighton cushion.
Ty Blach (2-2) tallied his second win, laboring through 6.0 innings, allowing two runs, one earned, on seven hits with six strikeouts. Sam Johns (5-3) took the loss for Evansville, allowing all seven runs, six earned, in 6.2 innings. He struck out nine Bluejay batters.
The Bluejays took the lead with back-to-back doubles from Bowens and Elliot Soto in the third. Bowens came around on Soto's double, and Soto scored two batters later when Trever Adams shot a single through the right side for a 2-0 CU advantage.
The Jays got out of their first bases loaded jam in the fourth, as Thornburg posted his solo shot, a towering blast to left-center, to make it 3-0.
The two squads exchanged single runs for the next four half-innings, as Evansville got on the board with Cody Fick's league-leading 13th home run in the fifth. Creighton answered in the bottom half as a Bowens scored on a wild pitch after getting plunked to start the frame.
Evansville came right back in the sixth to make it a 4-2 game. Heithoff reached on an error by Alex Staehely at second, and after an Andy Pascoe single and Chris Pearson sac bunt, Alex Acheson scored Heithoff with a sac fly to left.
Bowens figured into the action again in the bottom half, as he brought home Thornburg, who doubled to lead off the inning, with a perfectly executed safety squeeze, to make it 5-2 Jays.
Evansville would not go away, as a Trentt Copeland double and Nate Smith single set up Copeland scampering home on a Gage Daniels wild pitch to make it a 5-3 game. Evansville loaded the bases for the second time, but Bobby Lackovic came on in relief to get Acheson to fly out to the track in right field.
Creighton and Evansville will wrap up their series tomorrow at the CU Sports Complex. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.
Other Saturday Non-Conference Scores Around the Valley:
Bradley 31, Calumet 4 (7)
Southern Illinois 4, SIU Edwardsville 2
Bradley 6, Calumet 0 (7)