Wichita State Shockers

Illinois State sends Wichita State into MVC losers bracket

Wichita State coach Todd Butler will guide his team into two road exhibition games this fall. The Shockers will play at Nebraska on Sept. 22 and at Arkansas on Oct. 5.
Wichita State coach Todd Butler will guide his team into two road exhibition games this fall. The Shockers will play at Nebraska on Sept. 22 and at Arkansas on Oct. 5. File photo

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.

The easy path to the top of the bracket beckoned to Wichita State, requiring only a win over last-place Illinois State.

A painful first inning squashed that hope. The fifth-seeded Shockers are dumped into the losers bracket after a 7-4 loss to Illinois State on Thursday in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. On Friday, they face top-seeded Missouri State, a team that outscored them 33-9 in three games a month ago at Hammons Field.

WSU (28-29) must win twice on Friday to stay alive and twice on Saturday to win the tournament. Illinois State (15-38) went 2-18 in the regular season and is 2-0 in the tournament, needing one win Friday to reach Saturday’s championship.

“The first inning, they came out fighting and swinging the bats,” WSU coach Todd Butler said. “It was tough for us to recover from that inning. And we had plenty of time to do it.”

Shockers sophomore starter Codi Heuer, coming off the best outing of his career, gave up five hits and four runs in that inning. The Redbirds batted around and Heuer did not return for the second inning. He gave up three singles to start the game, the first two after getting ahead 0-2, to allow a run.

When he left a fastball up, the Redbirds hit it.

“Base hits, dink hits — you’ve got to put them away there,” Heuer said.

After a strikeout, a throwing error by third baseman Alec Bohm handed the Redbirds another run. He fielded a chopper, moving toward second, and took a look at the runner there. Then he turned and threw wide and stretching first baseman Greyson Jenista failed to catch the ball, allowing a runner to score for a 2-0 lead.

Heuer surrendered two more singles and a walk. A groundball out and a single by Joe Butler added two more runs. He struck out Ryan Hutchinson, who started the inning with a single, to end the inning.

Down 4-0, WSU’s hitters had nine at-bats to rally.

Redbirds starter Matt Walker choked that hope off with a sinking fastball that tormented the Shockers. Walker entered the game with a 7.14 ERA, 34 strikeouts, 27 walks and eight wild pitches. He hinted at that wildness, walking two and going to four three-ball counts, but the Shockers couldn’t push him over the edge.

Instead, he threw fastballs and hit most of his spots to produce groundball outs.

“The best part about was that I was keeping it low,” he said.

Walker struck out six in five innings and allowed four hits.

Simple stuff kept the Shockers from getting good swings. They went 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position in the game after going 1 for 10 in Thursday’s 3-1 win over Southern Illinois.

“He was making pitches, and that’s all you can ask of him,” WSU first baseman Greyson Jenista said. “He made pitches.”

WSU’s bullpen contributed another solid effort. Connor Lungwitz, in his longest outing of the season, struck out five and allowed five hits and two runs in 4 1/3 innings. Tyler Jones struck out four and allowed one run and one hit in 3 2/3 innings.

The offense, however, continued its tournament funk. The Shockers are hitting .228 in two games with 19 runners stranded and six hits in 31 at-bats with runners on base.

WSU loaded the bases in the first inning. Noah Croft’s flyball out ended that threat.

Dayton Dugas legged out a single to lead off the second and moved to third on Travis Young’s double. Jordan Boyer’s groundball scored Dugas. Walker struck out Jenista and got a groundball out from Trey Vickers to keep the lead at 4-1.

In the fifth, he struck out Jenista and Bohm looking on full-count pitches with a runner at second.

“He had a little sink to his fastball,” Butler said. “I thought maybe he would get a little erratic during the game, but he just kept making pitches.”

WSU’s defense faltered again in the third inning.

Left ielder Luke Ritter dove for a sinking line drive, missed, and played a single into a triple for Butler. Nick Zouras drove him in with a single for 5-1 lead. A sacrifice fly by Derek Parola in the sixth scored Joe Aeilts for a 6-1 lead. Collin Braithwaite’s home run in the ninth made it 7-2.

Vickers hit a two-run home run in the ninth with one out to cut the lead to 7-4. Two flyball outs ended the game and send the unlikely Redbirds into the driver’s seat in their side of the bracket.

“A fresh start can do amazing things,” Walker said.

No. 6 Evansville 12, No. 7 Bradley 2 — Trey Hair drove in three runs with two singles and every starter recorded at least one hit in the seven-inning elimination game.

Patrick Schnieders held the Braves to six hits. He struck out seven.

No. 1 Missouri State 13, No. 4 Southern Illinois — Jake Burger hit a grand slam and drove in five runs for the Bears in an elimination game.

No. 2 Dallas Baptist 6, No. 3 Indiana State 2 — Tim Millard homered and drove in two runs for the Patriots, who stayed unbeaten in the tournament.

x

Illinois St.

ab

r

h

bi

Wichita St.

ab

r

h

bi

Htchnsn 3b

5

1

2

0

Jenista 1b

4

1

1

0

Miller ss

5

1

2

0

Vickers ss

4

1

1

2

Parola 2b

3

1

1

2

Bohm 3b

5

1

1

0

Sadler rf

5

0

0

0

Schwnk dh

4

0

2

1

Brthwte c

5

2

1

1

Ritter lf-rf

3

0

0

0

Rave cf

5

0

0

1

Croft c

4

0

1

0

Butler lf

4

1

2

1

Dugas rf

2

1

1

0

Grimm lf

0

0

0

0

Jackson cf

2

0

0

0

Zouras dh

4

0

2

1

Young cf-lf

3

0

1

0

Aeilts 1b

3

1

1

0

Goodwin ph

1

0

0

0

DeBcker lf

0

0

0

0

Boyer 2b

4

0

1

1

Totals

39

7

11

6

Totals

36

4

9

4

Illinois St.

401

001

001

7

Wichita St.

010

000

012

4

E: Hutchinson (9), Bohm (9). DP: ISU. LOB: ISU 8, WSU 10. 2B: Schwanke (9), Young (5), Bohm (13). 3B: Butler (2). HR: Braithwaite (6), Vickers (4). SF: Parola (6).

Illinois St.

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Walker W,2-2

5

4

1

1

2

6

Cross

3

3

1

1

0

1

Lindgren

1

2

2

2

1

0

Wichita St.

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Heuer L,2-2

 1/3

5

4

1

1

2

Lungwitz

4 1/3

5

0

0

0

5

Jones

3 2/3

1

1

1

0

4

WP: Jones (6). HBP: Jenista (by Walker)., Parola (by Lungwitz), Ritter (by Cross). T: 3:34. A: 732.

Paul Suellentrop: 316-269-6760, @paulsuellentrop

No. 5 Wichita State vs. No. 1 Missouri State

When: 12:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Hammons Field, Springfield, Mo.

Records: WSU 28-29, MSU 38-16

Pitchers: WSU, RH Robby Evans (0-0, 3.24 ERA); TBA

Radio: KNSS, 1330-AM

Video: ESPN3.com

MVC Tournament

At Hammons Field, Springfield, Mo.

Wednesday

Indiana State 13, Evansville 4

Dallas Baptist 15, Bradley 9

Wichita State 3, Southern Illinois 1 (10)

Illinois State 1, Missouri State 0

Thursday

Evansville 12, Bradley 2 (Bradley eliminated)

Missouri State 13, Southern Illinois 3 (8) (SIU eliminated)

Dallas Baptist 6, Indiana State 2

Illinois State 7, Wichita State 2

Friday

No. 6 Evansville (18-38) vs. No. 3 Indiana State (28-25), 9 a.m.

No. 1 Missouri State (38-16) vs. No. 5 Wichita State (28-29), 12:30 p.m.

No. 2 Dallas Baptist (38-19) vs. Evansville-Indiana State winner, 4 p.m.

No. 8 Illinois State vs. Missouri State-Wichita State winner, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday

If necessary games at 11 a.m., 3 p.m.

Championship, 7 p.m.

All games on ESPN3.com

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