WSU shortstop Tyler Grimes tags Indiana State's Tyler Wampler during Friday's game.Scores: Wichita State 1, Indiana State 0 – ISU 6, WSU 0 – WSU 6, ISU 1
Records: WSU 32-24, 11-7; ISU 25-24, 7-11
Bottom line: The team that can’t sweep must sweep this weekend at Bradley. It’s obvious everything flows from starting pitching for WSU. When the starters are sharp early, the Shockers play better defense and the hitters perform. So what will the Shockers get from Saturday starter Brian Flynn? Hard to tell after his past two outings, both of which ended short of five innings. Sunday starter Josh Smith is on a better path, but can’t be counted on for more than five or six innings. The offense, good for most of the MVC schedule, slumped. If Preston Springer and Johnny Coy go cold again this weekend, the Shockers are in trouble. The good news is WSU’s defense limited the damage to two errors, neither of which led to a run. Shortstop Tyler Grimes made all the plays, routine and spectacular. If that continues, it’s a big boost to the pitching staff.
Weekend wonders: LH Charlie Lowell continued his campaign for MVC Pitcher of the Year by holding Indiana State to two hits over seven innings Friday. He didn’t have his best stuff (six walks), yet kept the Sycamores under control. C Charlie O’Brien extended his hitting streak to 21 games over the weekend, also walking five times. 3B Tyler Coughenour went 4 for 11 (.364). 2B Walker Davidson joined Grimes in a clean defensive effort. They helped WSU turn three double plays and Davidson shone on Sunday with two outstanding plays. RH T.J. McGreevy stopped Indiana State’s momentum on Sunday with a pickoff to end a bases-loaded threat. WSU’s bullpen is compensating for shaky starters. In the past two MVC series, relievers allowed two runs (both earned) in 19 innings. They allowed 13 hits and five walks in that span, striking out 13.
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Weekend woes: Flynn couldn’t throw his off-speed pitches across the plate and the Sycamores benched him after four innings. He allowed eight hits and five runs. DH Preston Springer and 1B Johnny Coy didn’t drive in a run. Both went 1 for 11. CF Kevin Hall went 1 for 8, walking three times. Grimes went 2 for 11 and struck out five times. One week afer the Shockers blew up one of the MVC’s best staffs against Creighton, they struggled against a team with mediocre numbers.
The other dugout: The Sycamores play solid defense. If their pitchers continue what they showed on Friday and Saturday, watch out. Their offense lacks speed and they don’t seem to possess a hitter who scares the opposing team. They will need need to play low-scoring games to advance in the MVC Tournament.
Around the MVC: There are a lot of average teams in the MVC, as the standings reflect. WSU, Creighton and Missouri State have a chance to win the title, and it’s hard to say which team has an edge. Creighton holds most of the cards, being in first place and playing at home. The Bluejays own two good starters, but Sunday is an issue. MSU has a better offense and a great closer in Dan Kickham.
What’s next: WSU plays Kansas State on Tuesday at Eck Stadium. Then it’s off to Bradley for a series that starts Thursday. WSU will go from Peoria to Omaha on Sunday to prepare for the MVC Tournament that begins May 24. The start times for the Bradley series are different than usual – 6 p.m., Thursday; noon on Friday and Saturday.