Wichita State Shockers

Bears push Shockers out of MVC, into challenging future

Greyson Jenista had two hits and three RBIs in Sunday's game against South Florida. The game ended in a 9-9 tie after the top half of the 11th inning due to travel constraints for South Florida.
Greyson Jenista had two hits and three RBIs in Sunday's game against South Florida. The game ended in a 9-9 tie after the top half of the 11th inning due to travel constraints for South Florida. File photo

Wichita State’s baseball farewell to the Missouri Valley Conference faded out quickly and quietly, in contrast to most of the previous 38 seasons.

A fifth-place finish led to a 1-2 exit from the MVC Tournament characterized by poor starting pitching and an inability for hitters to move runners. Top-seeded Missouri State ended Wichita State’s third straight losing season with a 6-3 win on Friday at Hammons Field.

WSU’s Alec Bohm flew out to center field to end it, the final moment in the MVC for a school that defined the sport for many years. Its 1989 College World Series title, seven CWS berths, 27 NCAA regional trips and 20 MVC titles since 1978 established the Shockers as the conference’s black-and-yellow bully.

That reputation faded after 2008’s NCAA super-regional team and disappeared a few years later. The stadium loudspeakers played Semisonic’s “Closing Time” and the Shockers walked through the gate in right field and into the American Athletic Conference era.

The Shockers (28-30) fell behind 5-0 in the third inning, one day after giving up four first-inning runs in a 7-4 loss to eighth-seeded Illinois State. The issues with clutch hitting continued — 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position to bring the tournament total to 4 for 30.

“We had hits, but we didn’t score many runs,” WSU coach Todd Butler said. “You have to match them offensively, and we couldn’t quite match them.”

The Bears (39-16) defeated Illinois State 8-6 later Friday to force a second bracket championship game at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Missouri State starter Dylan Coleman struck out a career-high 13, largely using his slider to lure Shockers into ill-advised swings, over 6 2/3 innings. Solo home runs by Bohm and Jordan Boyer weren’t nearly enough to pressure the Bears.

WSU left nine runners on base and went 2 for 18 with runners on.

In the first, the Shockers failed to move Greyson’s Jenista after a leadoff double. In the fourth, the Shockers put runners on second and third with one out and needed a wild pitch to score one run before strikeouts by Luke Ritter and Dayton Dugas ended the threat. A bases-loaded rally in the seventh ended with no runs after Ritter grounded out to first base.

“I wouldn’t say we started pressing,” shortstop Trey Vickers said. “We just weren’t able to poke that one through. We hit some balls hard this weekend that weren’t falling when we needed them to.”

WSU starter Robby Evans gave up five runs and five hits in two innings. Blake Graham homered in the second, an inning in which Evans also allowed two doubles. He started the third by allowing home runs to Justin Paulsen and Jake Burger.

The Shockers finished with their third straight losing season and next season’s upgrade to the American looms as significant challenge for a program that is 29-34 in the MVC the past three seasons.

“We would have liked to end our Missouri Valley Conference (time) a little bit better, but we’re excited for next year and to see what the new conference holds for us,” Vickers said.

The American ranks No. 4 nationally in the RPI, 13 spots ahead of the MVC.

“We’ve got a lot of work, a lot of ground to cover,” sophomore second baseman Jordan Boyer said.

The Shockers start the offseason knowing most of its roster is likely to return. Of the starting position players, only designated hitter Willie Schwanke, who went 7 of 12 in the tournament, is a senior and most are freshmen and sophomores. Bohm, an All-MVC pick at third base, Jenista, second-team All-MVC at first base, give the Shockers two offensive assets to build on in the American. Vickers is a three-year starter at shortstop and enjoyed his best offensive season as a junior.

“Knowing everybody will be back in August … it’s going to be comforting knowing we have a big group of guys knowing exactly what to expect, what it takes to win,” reliever Ben Hecht said.

Butler’s priority in the offseason is the pitching staff. It will take a hit with the departure of Friday starter Zach Lewis, an All-MVC pick. The draft may alter the incoming class and there are several draft-eligible pitchers who may be tempted to sign. The Shockers finished with a team ERA of 4.77, 6.21 in MVC games. Most pitchers will spend the summer in Wichita to focus on conditioning and strength straining and rest their arms.

WSU’s bullpen, forced to take over early on Thursday and Friday performed above expectations during the tournament. On Friday, Hecht threw three scoreless innings and struck out five.

“We’re trying to get a bona fide 1-2-3 starters,” Butler said. “That’s a really important thing for the future. We need to keep improving. We have some guys who need to get stronger physically.”

No. 3 Indiana State 11, No. 6 Evansville 3 — Dane Geisler hit a three-run home run and Tyler Friis went 3 for 4 to drive in two runs and eliminate the Aces.

No. 2 Dallas Baptist 2, No. 3 Indiana State 5 — Dallas Baptist’s Matt Duce homered and drove in four runs to send the Patriots (39-19) to Saturday’s championship game.

No. 1 Missouri State 8, No. 8 Illinois State 6 — The Bears scored four runs in the first inning on two hits and five walks by two Redbirds pitchers.

Missouri St.

ab

r

h

bi

Wichita St.

ab

r

h

bi

Stnmtz cf

5

0

2

1

Jenista 1b

5

0

3

0

Paulsen 1b

5

1

2

1

Vickers ss

5

0

0

0

Burger 3b

4

1

1

1

Boym 3b

5

2

2

1

Eierman ss

3

1

0

0

Schwnk dh

3

0

1

0

Graham dh

4

1

3

2

Ritter rf

3

0

0

0

Jffrson lf

4

1

1

0

Dugas lf

3

0

0

0

Duffy rf

4

1

0

0

Katzfey lf

1

0

1

0

Privitera 2b

4

0

0

0

TYoung cf

4

0

1

0

Geha c

4

0

1

1

Croft c

4

0

0

0

Boyer 2b

4

1

1

1

Totals

37

6

10

6

Totals

37

3

9

2

Missouri St.

023

001

000

6 10 1

Wichita St.

000

101

100

3 9 1

E: Burger (9), Ritter (5). LOB: MSU 7, WSU 9. 2B: Jefferson (11), Geha (2), Jenista (14). HR: Graham (9), Paulsen (6), Burger (22), Bohm (11), Boyer (3). SB: Eierman (12), Young (8). CS: Steinmetz (2), Eiermann (2).

Missouri St.

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Coleman W,8-3

6 1/3

8

3

3

1

13

B. Young S,8

2 2/3

1

0

0

1

3

Wichita St.

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

Evans L,0-1

2

5

5

5

0

1

Barnhouse

2 2/3

2

0

0

1

3

Biechler

1 1/3

1

1

0

0

1

Hecht

3

2

0

0

0

5

WP: Coleman (15), Biechler (8), Hecht (7). HBP: Burger, Eierman (by Evans). T: 3:27. A: 923.

Paul Suellentrop: 316-269-6760, @paulsuellentrop

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

Indiana State 11, Evansville 3 (Evansville eliminated)

Missouri State 6, Wichita State 3 (Wichita State eliminated)

Dallas Baptist 6, Indiana State 5 (Indiana State eliminated)

Missouri State 8, Illinois State 6

Saturday

No. 8 Illinois State (15-39) vs. No. 1 Missouri State (40-16), 2 p.m.

No. 2 Dallas Baptist (39-19) vs. Illinois State-Missouri State winner, 7 p.m.

All games on ESPN3.com

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