Southern Illinois coach Dan Callahan won't fondly remember this season's tournament.
The sour taste goes beyond two losses and Wednesday's 11-run meltdown in the sixth inning against Missouri State.
SIU's bus broke down on Tuesday. That was far from the worst of it.
The school ruled No. 2 starter Randy Hoelscher academically ineligible, taking him out of Wednesday's scheduled start. Callahan had to bench his leading hitter for a temper tantrum in the dugout.
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"Randy Hoelscher is the kind of guy, you score 10 runs on 12 hits, and he's going to win," Callahan said. "He's not with us, effective (Tuesday). (Tuesday) was just a miserable day, between finding out of his ineligibility and finding out our team grades were absolutely appalling."
Callahan pulled sophomore first baseman Chris Serritella after he struck out in the seventh inning of Wednesday's 14-10 loss.
"He started throwing things around the dugout, and I'm not going to be a landing strip for helmets and bats," Callahan said. "We give them quite a bit of latitude in our dugout as far as being able to come in there and say what they want to say. He threw a bat that came close to me, and I'm not going to tolerate that."
Callahan concluded the Salukis did themselves no favors with karma, on or off the field.
"When you disrupt the baseball gods, I think some things are deserving," he said.
What a mess — Missouri State tied a tournament-record with its 11-run sixth against SIU.
Nine of those runs scored with two outs and four after second baseman Blake Pinnon lost a pop up in the sun, found it in time to get a glove on it before dropping it. After 16 Bears batted, a five-run lead turned into a six-run deficit.
"I wasn't sharp at all," SIU reliever Ryan Bradley said. "It spiraled out of control after the first couple guys, and nobody could really stop it."
SIU gave up 25 runs, all earned, in two games. Evansville and MSU combined for 31 hits and six home runs.
"It definitely helped getting into the bullpen," MSU third baseman Curt Courtwright said. "We knew they didn't have a whole lot to go to."
Show time — The happy mob of Creighton players ran toward home plate to dogpile Carson Vitale, who scored the winning run in the bottom of the 12th inning against Bradley.
Then the bouncing bunch of Bluejays headed to first base, where they surrounded Michael Blatchford, whose single scored Vitale for a 6-5 win. They piled on the freshman with no regard for safety.
"I let them do whatever," Blatchford said. "It's a pretty good moment."
Blatchford entered the game as a pinch-runner with 19 at-bats this season. He does, however, own a sense of drama. He sent the first pitch of his college career over the fence for a home run against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.
Wednesday's clutch hit didn't shock Bluejays coach Ed Servais. When he gathered the team, he told them Blatchford got himself ready for that moment with his behind-the-scenes work.
"He prepares for each game as if he is starting," Servais said. "It's very unusual for a young player. He takes his BP. He takes his rounds, he takes his drill work very seriously."
Out of the depths — Creighton and Missouri State survived elimination games on Wednesday.
They must win two more to survive today and another on Friday to reach Saturday's championship.
That means an all-hands-on-deck approach to pitching. Brandon Koenigstein, the likely No. 3 starter, pitched 6 2/3 innings in relief for Creighton on Wednesday. Servais will likely go to Greg Hellhake (1-2, 7.53 ERA) today. Behind Hellhake, several pitchers are on call.
"We're going to probably have to play this like a true mid-week game in that we're going to see four or five guys out there," Servais said. "That's probably how we're going to have play each and every game now that we've burned our top three arms."
Missouri State is in better shape with senior Pat Doyle (5-8, 4.08) ready for his usual start. Junior Aaron Meade, an All-MVC pitcher in 2009, should be ready soon after throwing 70 pitches on Wednesday. He walked four and gave up a single in the fourth inning to end his day earlier than planned.
"He had some issues," MSU coach Keith Guttin said. "The beauty of that is, we're going to get him back. I think that was his plan."
Creighton 6, Bradley 5 (12) —The Bluejays scored four runs in the eighth to tie the game 5-all and won it in the 12th. T.J. Roemmich's three-run double pulled Creighton (27-24) to within 5-4.
Robbie Knight scored two runs on two hits for the Bluejays, who play a third straight 9 a.m. game today.
Bradley (20-32) got a runner to third with one out in the top of the 12th. A foul out and a flyball stranded him.
Bradley100 030 010 000 — 5 10 1 Creighton000 100 040 001 — 6 11 0
Bircher, Ziegler (8), Jensen (10) and Sullivan. Blach, Koenigstein (5), Jensen (10) and Vitale. W—Lackovic 4-3. L—Jensen 5-4. HR—Bradley, Fritz (7).
Illinois State 10, Indiana State 5 — The Redbirds remained unbeaten, helped by Kevin Tokarski's grand slam in the fifth inning.
Illinois State (29-22) scored four runs in the ninth inning. It faces either Creighton or Indiana State today with a chance to advance to Saturday's championship game.
Third-seeded Indiana State (34-18) took a 3-1 lead in the third.
Illinois State100 500 004 — 10 14 2 Indiana State003 002 000 — 5 10 1
Learnard, Long (6) and Mirabal. Rodriguez, Merkley (9), Flora (9), Dorsett (9), Stenftenagel (9) and Graham. W—Learnard 4-3. L—Rodriguez 7-2. S—Long (9). HR—Illinois State, Tokarski (7).
Missouri State 14, Southern Illinois 10 — Keenen Maddox's grand slam highlighted an 11-run inning for the Bears (21-33).
MSU scored nine of those runs with two outs to turn a 7-2 deficit into a 13-7 lead.
Chris Murphy drove in three runs for SIU (28-29).
The Bears play at 12:30 p.m. today in an elimination game.
Southern Illinois000 000 000 — 0 0 0 Missouri State000 000 000 — 0 0 0
Cornell, Bradley (6), Weld (6), Candau (6), Forsythe (7), George (8) and Bajer. Meade, Gordon (4) and Marshall. W—Gordon 4-2. L—Bradley 0-5. HR—Missouri State, Maddox (5), Marshall (1).