All three road teams stole the show on Saturday, as Illinois State and Wichita State clinched series victories with wins over Missouri State and Creighton, respectively, while Indiana State evened the score with Evansville. The Redbirds scored nine unanswered runs to erase a 7-1 deficit to top the Bears, 11-9, while the Shockers road the coattails of three home runs to seal the victory over the Jays, 8-3. The Sycamores scored five runs in the first four innings and were able to hold off the Purple Aces' comeback attempt, winning 5-4.
In Saturday non-conference action, Bradley took both games of a doubleheader with SIU Edwardsville, by scores of 7-1 and 3-2, while Southern Illinois fell to Middle Tennessee State, 5-1.
ILLINOIS STATE 11, MISSOURI STATE 9
ILS (23-18, 11-3 MVC); MSU (18-27, 4-10 MVC)
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Illinois State used nine unanswered runs to erase a 7-1 deficit and received another shut down effort from the back end of its bullpen to hang on for an 11-9 win over Missouri State at Hammons Field Saturday afternoon. Ryan Court was 2-for-4 with five RBI in the game while helping the Redbirds clinch their first series win over the Bears on the road since 2001.
Illinois State (23-18, 11-3 MVC) faced a 7-1 deficit after three innings, but evened the tally with six runs in the top of the fourth – the last three on an opposite field, three-run blast just inside the right field foul pole by Court. The Redbirds added three more in the top of the sixth to complete the scoring swing and called in their left-handed bullpen duo – Ryan Copeland and Kenny Long – when the Bears (18-27, 4-10 MVC) pulled within two runs with no outs and the bases loaded in the sixth.
Copeland induced a ground ball to get the first out of the inning at home and got Curt Courtwright to ground into a potential double play to short but the ball was mishandled and a run scored to make it 10-9. Copeland struck out the next two batters to end the threat and wrapped three strikeouts around a triple in the seventh, his only hit allowed in two innings. Long struck out the side in the eighth and worked around a pair of leadoff singles in the ninth to record his second save of the series and seventh of the season. The two southpaws combined for 10 of Illinois State’s 15 strikeouts.
Missouri State jumped on the board first with a run in the second inning off Redbird starter Brad Sorkin, but did the most damage in the bottom of the third after sending 12 batters to the plate. Aaron Conway had two hits in the inning, stole two bases and drove in two runs. Conway finished the contest 3-for-5.
Court provided Illinois State’s first run of the game on a sacrifice fly in the top of the third, but the Redbirds found themselves trailing by six after stranding five runners in scoring position through the first three innings. The Redbirds loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth with nobody out and inched closer, 7-2, after Kevin Tokarski walked to push Tyler McNeely across. Missouri State starter Aaron Meade then struck out Chad Hinshaw and Matt Mirabal, and looked like he would escape the jam with two strikes against Anthony Ruffolo but the Illinois State senior delivered a two-RBI single. Court cleared the bases and tied the game with his home run in the next at-bat.
Court’s single in the sixth added two more runs to the Redbirds’ total and McNeely squeezed him home later in the inning to give ISU a 10-7 lead. Illinoiss State scratched across another run in the ninth after an error with the bases loaded allowed Brett Kay to score. Ruffolo (3), Zach Amrein (2), Court (2), Tokarski (2) and Ty Wiesemyer (2) each had multiple hits for the Redbirds. Jim Sajewich earned the win, his first of the season.
Courtwright (2), Kevin Medrano (2), and Barrett Noirfalise (2) joined Conway with multiple-hit efforts. Grant Gordon was saddled with the loss for the Bears despite pitching effectively in the game’s last three innings.
The series concludes Sunday at 1 p.m. with Illinois State’s JD Learnard expected to start against Missouri State’s Pat Doyle.
WICHITA STATE 8, CREIGHTON 3
WSU (31-17, 12-5 MVC); CU (22-19, 9-11 MVC)
OMAHA, Neb. - Wichita State used three home runs to defeat Creighton 8-3 in game two of a three-game series.
Cody Lassley went 2-for-4 with three RBI and a home run, while Johnny Coy went 3-for-5 with a home run and Bret Bascue went 2-for-3 with two RBI and a home run.
Starter Tim Kelley earned his eighth win of the season. He pitched eight innings and gave up just one earned run off of 10 hits with three strikeouts.
Creighton scored its first run of the series in the first inning. Elliot Soto led off with a single and advanced to second on a groundout. He moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a two-out infield single from Carson Vitale to give CU a 1-0 lead.
The Shockers answered with two runs in the second as Johnny Coy and Bret Bascue led off the inning with back-to-back home runs to right field to put WSU in front 2-1.
The Bluejays tied the game at two in the second with another unearned run off of Shocker starter Tim Kelley.
Cody Lassley hit his ninth home run of the year in the fifth, a three-run blast to left field to put WSU back in front 5-2, but CU cut into the lead with a run in the fifth to make the score 5-3.
The Shockers tacked on three more in the seventh. Lassley singled to centerfield with one out and stole second before Coy moved him to third on a single through the left side. Lassley scored on a sacrifice fly from Bascue and Coy scored on a double down the right field line from Ryan Jones. Jones scored the final run of the inning all the way from second base on a wild pitch to give WSU an 8-3 advantage.
The Shockers and Creighton play the final game of the series at 1 p.m. on Sun., May 9 at the CU Sports Complex.
INDIANA STATE 5, EVANSVILLE 4
INS (30-14, 9-7 MVC); UE (25-21, 6-8 MVC)
EVANSVILLE, Ind. - What a difference a day makes. On Friday night the Indiana State University baseball team left 10 runners on base in a 3-2 loss, but on Saturday the Sycamores stranded just two runners in a 5-4 victory to even the weekend series with the University of Evansville.
The Sycamores (30-14, 9-7 MVC) jumped out to an early 5-0 lead on Saturday, scoring four times in the third inning and once more in the fourth.
Senior Grant Grgurich began the four-run inning with a bunt single down the third base line with one-out before getting pushed to second base when fellow senior Ben Ferrell drew a walk. ISU took advantage of a fielding miscue by the Purple Aces after that, when second baseman Trentt Copeland fumbled a potential double play ground ball from senior Ryan Strausborger, allowing Ferrell to reach second and giving ISU a bases loaded situation with one out. Sophomore Kyle Burnam and senior Luke Fieser delivered RBIs later in the inning, with Burnam lacing a two-RBI double down the right field line and Fieser singling through the right side of the infield to bring home two more runs.
The Sycamores tacked on another run in the following inning when Grgurich brought home senior Tyler Graham with a single through the left side of the infield.
Evansville (25-21, 6-8 MVC) began their comeback in the bottom of the fourth, scoring one run on a ground out by first baseman John Day.
The Aces cut the lead to just one run after the seventh inning, scoring twice in the sixth inning and once more in the seventh. Right fielder Nate Smith homered for the second straight day with a shot to lead off the sixth inning before left fielder Alex Acheson picked up an RBI base hit later in the frame. MVC home run leader and UE third baseman Cody Fick hit his 14th long ball of the season to lead off the seventh inning, cutting the ISU lead to 5-4.
The bullpen combination of senior Scott Harlan, sophomore Brandon Flora and freshman Tyler Browning held that slim lead for the remainder of the game, recording the final nine outs of the game to secure the win for ISU starter Joe Rodriguez.
Rodriguez (6-1) tossed six innings on the mound, scattering 10 hits and allowing four runs (three earned) while striking out five batters. Browning picked up his ninth save of the season by working a scoreless ninth. For the game, the Purple Aces left 12 runners on base, including a pair in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Burnam and Fieser led ISU at the plate on Saturday, each picking up a pair of hits and a pair of RBIs. Grgurich also tallied two hits during the game while driving in one run.
The Sycamores and Purple Aces will battle for the series victory on Sunday, with first pitch set for 2:00 p.m. ISU will send junior Jason Van Skike (3-2, 4.34 ERA) to the mound against UE's south paw Josh Biggs (0-0, 4.63 ERA).
Other Saturday Non-Conference Scores Around the Valley:
Bradley 7, SIU Edwardsville 1
Bradley 3, SIU Edwardsville 2
Middle Tennessee State 5, Southern Illinois 1