No. 6 INDIANA STATE 7, No. 2 WICHITA STATE 6
INS (29-27); WSU (38-25)
OMAHA, Neb. - The Indiana State baseball team will live to fight another day in the 2011 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, as the sixth-seeded Sycamores defeated the #2 Wichita State Shockers, 7-6, on Thursday night from TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.
The Sycamores (29-27) and Shockers (38-25) will take the field again at 1:30 p.m. (ET) on Friday, with the winner advancing to the championship game against either #1 Creighton or #4 Missouri State.
On Wednesday when Wichita State came away with a 7-3 victory it was Indiana State that gave up several unearned runs. On Thursday, the errors swung the other way. The Sycamores took advantage in the top of the second inning, scoring three unearned runs. Sophomore Jeremy Lucas and junior Jon Hedges led off the inning with back-to-back singles, but remained on first and second with two outs. Freshman Tyler Wampler came up with two down and grounded a pitch to sophomore Walker Davidson at second base that the Shocker second baseman fielded, but his throw went wide of first base, allowing Lucas to hustle home from second.
The game took an interesting turn after that, as junior Jeff Miera came to the plate with Hedges on third and Wampler of second with two outs. During Miera's at-bat, the junior fouled a pitch off the fist of his bat that shot into his face, forcing the ISU second baseman to be pulled from the game. After a delay of several minutes, sophomore Jordan Pearson came off the Sycamore bench and delivered right away, lacing the first pitch he saw from WSU starter Josh Smith up the middle of the infield to plate both Hedges and Lucas for a 3-0 ISU lead.
Wichita State came back to tie the game in fourth inning off junior spot-starter Brandon Flora, using a two-run home run by sophomore Johnny Coy and a one-run single from junior Don Lambert following an error by the ISU defense.
The Sycamores once again took a three-run lead in the sixth inning, taking advantage of Wichita State's second error of the game. Lucas was the first Sycamore to reach, singling with one out in the inning, before Hedges followed by drawing a walk. Junior Lucas Hileman was the batter that drew the error, as his swinging bunt down the third base line started foul, but spun back into fair territory. The play caught WSU's third baseman Dayne Parker off-guard, forcing the fielder to rush his throw that skipped past Coy at first allowing Lucas to score, Hedges to move to third and Hileman to advance to second. Junior Ryan Walterhouse picked up ISU's next RBI, placing a perfect squeeze bunt down the first base line, but also reaching on the play as Smith and Coy collided as they attempted to field the bunt. Wampler gave ISU a 6-3 lead when he hit a sacrifice fly to right field.
Indiana State tallied a key insurance run in the eighth inning off the bat of Walterhouse, who hit a two-out single through the left side of the infield to plate Lucas from third base.
That late run came back in a big way for the Sycamores, as the Shockers rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning off senior Blake Drake. The game ended in with a bang-bang play at third base, when sophomore Koby Kraemer fielded a ground ball off the bat of freshman Zach Stucky and raced to the base at third, just nipping a sliding Tyler Coughenour at the bag.
Flora made his first career start for the Sycamores on Thursday, lasting into the fifth inning and allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits and three walks. Junior Chris Machado (5-3) earned the victory, tossing four scoreless innings in relief, scattering four hits while striking out five.
Lucas led Indiana State at the plate, going 3-for-4 with three singles and walk, also scoring three times. Both Walterhouse and Pearson tallied a pair of RBIs.
The Sycamores and Shockers will meet one more time in Omaha, with a spot in the tournament's championship game on the line. ISU and WSU will hit the field at 1:30 p.m. (ET). Wichita State is set to send freshman Zach Beringer (2-3, 4.66 ERA) to the mound, while Indiana State has yet to announce a starter. Freshmen Kurt Kudrecki (1-1, 3.45 ERA) and Josh Negele (1-0, 5.52 ERA) are probable to start the game on the mound.