A rivalry from the Missouri Valley Conference will be renewed Tuesday for the Wichita State baseball team when the Shockers play Missouri State in a midweek road game.
After not playing the Bears last season, WSU coach Todd Butler made the effort to schedule a home-and-home (Missouri State’s trip to Eck Stadium was canceled due to inclement weather in April) this season. He hopes to continue that trend in coming years.
“Anytime you can play Missouri State, you know it’s going to be a tough test,” Butler said. “That’s a rivalry that’s been going on for decades and I hope to keep those guys on the schedule every year if we can.”
After totaling 170 wins the last four seasons, Missouri State (15-31) has been ravaged by injuries and will post its first losing record since 2014.
But it would be unwise to count the Bears out entirely. After losing 12 of 14 games heading into last weekend, Missouri State shocked Dallas Baptist (32-15, RPI of 33) by winning the series with a doubleheader sweep on Saturday with victories of 4-3 and 6-0.
WSU (21-26) has also gone through its own struggles recently. The Shockers lost 14 of 16 before bouncing back to win 12-5 at Connecticut in a series finale Saturday. After WSU’s bats were silenced in 4-0 and 2-1 losses, the Shockers exploded for 12 runs, including a pair of homers from senior Mason O’Brien and a grand slam by Paxton Wallace
“We swung the bats better and took advantage of their pitching staff in the third game,” Butler said. “The guys really responded that game when they knew that we really had to have that one. The bats finally woke up and freshman Connery Peters was absolutely fantastic on the mound for us to get his first collegiate win.
“It was good to finally see some smiles on the guys’ faces. They fought that second game. Doubleheaders are tough and they fought, so that win was huge for us.”
Although the first two games against UConn resulted in losses, they featured quality outings from WSU’s starting pitchers — a sore spot for the Shockers this season. Liam Eddy allowed three earned runs in six innings on Friday, while Clayton McGinness threw seven innings and allowed just two earned runs Saturday before Peters followed with his own seven-inning outing with just one earned run.
A combined 20 innings and six earned runs makes that arguably the most impressive performance from the WSU pitching staff in a weekend series this season. Butler hopes junior Tommy Barnhouse can keep that going Tuesday.
“I thought we played really well against UConn and when we pitch like that we’re going to be in every game,” Butler said. “Our starting pitching was a huge positive for us this past weekend.”
WSU baseball at Missouri State
Records: WSU 21-26, MSU 15-31
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Hammons Field, Springfield, Mo.
Radio: KNSS, 1330-AM