As Indiana State’s offense slowly chipped away at Dallas Baptist, Jeff Degano dug in.
The Sycamores’ starting pitcher overpowered the Patriots, inning after inning, and the few times he got in trouble on Wednesday in the teams’ Missouri Valley Conference Tournament opener, he righted the ship.
The end result was the tournament’s first upset, with No. 7 seed Indiana State pulling off the 2-0 win over the No. 2 seed and No. 1 team in the college baseball RPI. Degano pitched eight innings, striking out nine and walking two.
“I felt like I had pretty good control of my fastball, so I was able to get to spots and let them try to hit,” Degano said. “We’ve been proving all year we can beat the harder teams on our schedule. We were loose when we came out and just did what we had to do to get the win.”
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Indiana State (28-24) advances to play Bradley at 4 p.m. Thursday. Dallas Baptist (41-12) faces Evansville at 9 a.m. Thursday in an elimination game.
“Jeff Degano pitched his tail off today, and he’s pitched well for us all year,” Indiana State coach Mitch Hannahs said. “That may have been the best I’ve seen him pitch. He’s the reason we were able to beat Dallas Baptist today.”
Indiana State took a 1-0 lead in the third on an RBI double by Landon Curry, who went 3 for 3. The Sycamores added another run in the fifth on an infield single by Jacob Hayes with the bases loaded and one out that scored Kaden Moore.
“We did just enough offensively to scratch out a couple of runs,” Hannahs said.
Degano saved his best moment for when the Sycamores needed him most. With runners on first and third and two outs in the eighth, he struck Drew Turbin out swinging. Degano also ended the third with two runners on base for the Patriots.
Austin Conway pitched the ninth for Indiana State, getting two fly outs and a pop out from Dallas Baptist to finish the game.
It was Indiana State’s third win over either the No. 1 team in the rankings or RPI after beating Vanderbilt and Dallas Baptist during the regular season.
“I think it’s because we come out nice and loose and there’s not too much pressure for us,” Degano said. “It’s because nobody expects much out of us.”
2 9 0
0 3 0
W – Degano. L – Shaw.