TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Indiana State claimed the Missouri Valley Conference regular season championship on Thursday night, topping the visiting Missouri State Bears by a score of 6-3 in front of a season-high 717 fans at Bob Warn Field at Sycamore Stadium.
The regular season championship is the fourth in school history for Indiana State, joining the 1982, 1983 and 1985 teams. For the first time in school history, the Sycamores picked up an outright regular season championship as the 1982 and 1983 teams won the East Division of the MVC while the 1985 squad tied with Wichita State.
The Sycamores (41-13, 14-5 MVC) got going quickly on Thursday night, plating one run in the first inning. Freshman Landon Curry led off the game with a single to center, scoring two batters later when junior Jeremy Lucas brought him home with a single to center. The run was the first earned run allowed in MVC play by Missouri State starter Nick Petree, breaking a string of 38 consecutive scoreless innings since April 6 and his first earned run allowed since March 2 (73 innings).
ISU made it 3-0 in the bottom of the second inning when Curry's line drive to left went over the head of the MSU left fielder Dylan Becker, allowing senior Ryan Walterhouse and redshirt junior Koby Kraemer to score on the play.
Missouri State (35-18, 11-7 MVC) got back into the game with a two-run single by Brent Seifert in the third inning before tying the score in the fourth on a two-out double by Eric Cheray.
After leaving the bases loaded in the fourth and two on in the fifth, Indiana State regained the lead for good in the sixth, taking advantage of a key mental mistake by Missouri State. With the bases loaded and two outs, senior Lucas Hileman hit a high bounding ball to short that Cheray fielded, but when he looked to throw to second base, MSU's Kevin Medrano was not at the base. Cheray double-clutched and threw to first, but Hileman beat the throw and Curry scored on the play to put ISU in front 4-3.
The Sycamores tacked on two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth, as senior Kyle Burnam led off the inning with a double before scoring on Lucas' triple down the right field line. Lucas would score with two outs in the inning on passed ball by MSU catcher Luke Voit.
Junior Dakota Bacus (7-3) earned the victory, tossing his third complete game of the season. The ISU hurler struck out five batters while scattering eight hits and allowing three runs (two earned).
Burnam, Hileman and Lucas led ISU with three hits on Thursday, while Curry went 2-for-3 with two walks, two RBIs and two runs scored. Lucas also drove in two runs. ISU's 15 hits as a team where the most for the Sycamores in MVC play this season.
Indiana State and Missouri State continue their series on Friday night, as the Sycamores send sophomore southpaw Sean Manaea (5-1, 3.09 ERA) to the mound against junior right-hander Cody Schumacher (7-1, 4.02 ERA) for the Bears.