Tuesday’s box score
Illinois St. 6, WSU 0
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E — Kirk. DP — ISU, WSU 2. LOB — ISU 7, WSU 13. 2B — Snyder (5). HR — Stewart (3). S — Kihle, Bayliff. SB — Baker (2), Kihle (9). CS — Leverett.
|Savas W,8-4||6 1/3||4||0||0||6||8||1.88|
|Rhoades S,4||2 2/3||2||0||0||1||4||2.48|
WP — Savas, Elam 2, LaBrie. HBP — DeJong (by LaBrie); Kihle (by Rhoades). Umpires — home, Tim Catton; first, Bret Bruington; second, Scott Behn; third, Dave Condon. T — 2:43. A — NA.
A year ago, Wichita State started the MVC Tournament with a dispiriting 5-1 loss to Southern Illinois in Normal, Ill.
The recovery process started with pitcher A.J. Ladwig, just as it will on Wednesday. Ladwig kept WSU in the tournament with an 11-4 win over Creighton, striking out eight Bluejays and preserving the bullpen.
WSU needs Ladwig again and it can take comfort in turning to the nation’s third-leading ERA (1.11) in the elimination game. Ladwig, named an All-MVC pick Monday, is 3-6 with 69 strikeouts and 14 walks this season.
“We know (Ladwig) is going to do his job and we just need to go out and do our job behind him,” WSU catcher Tyler Baker said.
Should WSU survive the morning game, it plays again on Thursday morning. It will need to win twice Thursday to stay alive. In all, the Shockers need five straight wins to win the tournament and the automatic spot in the NCAA regionals.
That’s what happened last season. Ladwig, Garrett Brummett, Kris Gardner and Cale Elam started four of those games and all are on this season’s roster. The missing piece is reliever Albert Minnis, who started the semifinal game against Indiana State in 2013.
“We’ve been there before,” Elam said. “You’ve just got to keep grinding it out. Hopefully, we’ll get some of those hits (Wednesday) that maybe we didn’t have today.”
Sell that move
WSU’s well-known third-to-first pickoff move hasn’t been used often this season. Elam is one of the few pitchers on the staff who can consistently make the play without balking or throwing the ball away.
He used it to turn the momentum in the second inning on Tuesday after giving up a run. With runners on first and third and one out, he caught Illinois State’s Logan Leverett off first base and Casey Gillapsie tagged him.
“Before I came here, I had never really even tried it,” Elam said. “They’re easy outs if you can get them and execute. That saved me a lot of pitches.”
T.J. McGreevy, a senior on last season’s team, used the pickoff move masterfully during his career and Elam learned from him. While the play is commonly referred to as a fake to third, the key is to make the runner believe the pitcher is going home. If a pitcher can do that, then fake to third, spin, and throw to first, he can often catch a runner standing.
“You’ve got to sell it,” Elam said. “McGreevy picked guys off that were sitting two or three feet off the bag all the time.”
WSU was shut out for the first time since a 3-0 loss to Oklahoma State on April 30. Illinois State shut out the Shockers for the first time since a 2-0 win in 2002. … Elam threw 101 pitches. He was moved up in the rotation earlier this month in case WSU needed him to pitch on short rest in the tournament. … Gillaspie went 0 for 4, with a walk, to drop his average to .390. He went hitless for the 10th time this season. … All games in the MVC Tournament are available on ESPN3.com, ESPN’s Internet-only platform.