Wichita State Shockers

Bradley shuts down Wichita State’s offense in MVC Tournament opener

Wichita State first baseman Greyson Jenista awaits a throw as Bradley’s Luke Mangieri reaches the bag during the Shockers’ 5-2 loss on Wednesday in the first round of the MVC Tournament.
Wichita State first baseman Greyson Jenista awaits a throw as Bradley’s Luke Mangieri reaches the bag during the Shockers’ 5-2 loss on Wednesday in the first round of the MVC Tournament. Tribune-Star

Wichita State’s hope to shake up the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament started with offense, then more offense, followed by hoping for adequate pitching.

“I was worried about playing Wichita State … because they are so unpredictable in the sense of their bats up and down the lineup scare me,” Bradley coach Elvis Dominguez said.

No worries, because Dominguez had junior Matt Dennis on the mound. WSU’s offense sputtered to three hits, two in the first inning, in a 5-2 loss to Bradley in the first round of tournament at Warn Field.

The Shockers (21-36) drop into the losers bracket and play second-seeded Indiana State at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, in danger of exiting without a win for the first time since 2012. While they didn’t squander a pitching gem by starter Zach Lewis and the bullpen, it seemed like a wasted, frustrating day for WSU hitters.

“We had a leadoff walk one inning, and that was about it,” Shockers coach Todd Butler. “(Dennis) was dynamite today, much better than we were offensively.”

Third-seeded Bradley (28-19) plays at 6:30 p.m. in the winners bracket.

WSU, even as it fell from the top of the MVC in recent seasons, has been a tough out in the tournament. It went 2-2 last season, losing twice to eventual champion Missouri State. In 2014 it went 2-2, and won the title in 2013. Now it’s one game away from stacking a two-and-out flop onto a disastrous regular season.

“It’s a battle to survive,” WSU senior Mikel Mucha said. “We can’t lose a game, or we’re packing up and headed home.”

The Shockers, despite slumping to a No. 6 seed, led the MVC with a .293 batting average and .368 on-base percentage in conference play.

The afternoon started with great promise for WSU, thanks to a two-run home run by Alec Bohm in the first inning. Even in the second, it appeared the Shockers could get to Dennis. He walked two batters before ending the inning with a double-play groundball off the bat of Tanner Kirk. He retired the next nine and didn’t allow another runner until the sixth.

Dennis relied on a two-seam fastball that he kept low in the strike zone. He recorded 11 groundball outs, none of which required much effort from his fielders. When the Shockers didn’t ground out, they hit weak pop flys.

“He located it real well and was able to get groundballs,” WSU shortstop Trey Vickers said.

Bradley had good reason to fear WSU’s bats based on the regular-season series. The Shockers took two of three games at Eck Stadium in late April and totaled 21 runs, five against Dennis in six innings in a 7-5 win in the opener.

“The two-seam fastball is big for me, getting those groundballs,” Dennis said. “If you keep the ball on the ground, when you have as good of defense as we do, you know guys are going to make plays.”

There was no play to be made on Bohm’s home run. He took advantage of the wind blowing out to left and drove in Greyson Jenista, who singled with two outs. Bohm hit his sixth home run of the season, most for a WSU freshman since Casey Gillaspie hit eight in 2012.

“That ball in the first inning, I obviously left up, and he’s had a great year,” Dennis said. “You leave a ball up today … it was going to go.”

Lewis had that problem in the third when the Braves scored three runs. Bradley shortstop Tyler Leffler hit a two-run homer, also to left, with two outs. Bradley’s Spencer Gaa drove in another two-out run in the fifth. WSU’s bullpen kept it 4-2 until the ninth, when D.J. Gasso doubled in a run off Chase Williams.

That, by WSU’s pitching-poor standards, was a competitive outing. It doesn’t possess an ace capable of winning a low-scoring game to open the tournament. The burden, everyone understood, was on the hitters to keep up.

“You have to perform in post-season,” Butler said. “And if you don’t perform, you go home. The offense let us down.”

Worth noting — The schools met in the tournament for the first time since 2006 and the Braves won for the first time since 1996. It was the first time in 14 tournament meetings that Bradley earned a higher seed than WSU. … The Shockers will start sophomore Cody Tyler on Thursday. Tyler went 3-4 with a 4.58 ERA this season. He threw a complete game in a 9-2 in over Missouri State in April, scattering 11 hits and striking out five. … The Shockers dropped to 4-19 away from Eck Stadium.

No. 4 Southern Illinois 4, No. 5 Evansville 3 — SIU’s Logan Blackfan went 3 for 4 and drove in a run and starter Chad Whitmer held Evansville to eight hits and two earned runs over 7 1/3 innings.

Evansville (27-26) scored two eighth-inning runs before SIU closer Ryan Netemeyer finished the game for his 12th save.

The Salukis (31-23) play top-seeded Dallas Baptist at 3 p.m. Thursday.

No. 1 Dallas Baptist 9, No. 8 Illinois State 5 — Cameron Duzenack hit a three-run home run in the seventh inning and MVC Player of the Year Darick Hall hit his 17th home run of the season for Dallas Baptist (38-17).

The Redbirds (17-36) scored five runs in the ninth inning. Dallas Baptist starter Colin Poche held Illinois State to four hit over eight innings.

No. 7 Missouri State 12, No. 2 Indiana State 4 — Spencer Johnson and Jake Burger homered to lead the Bears, who recorded 15 hits against five Sycamores pitchers.

Burger also tripled and drove in three runs for the Bears (35-19).

Tony Rosselli homered for Indiana State (34-20).

Wichita State

ab

r

h

bi

bb

so

avg

Young cf

2

0

0

0

1

1

.314

Reding ph

0

0

0

0

1

0

.312

DeBacker lf

0

0

0

0

0

0

.286

Eaton cf

0

0

0

0

0

0

.170

Mucha lf

3

0

0

0

0

0

.295

Rader ph

1

0

0

0

0

0

.258

Jenista 1b

4

1

1

0

0

2

.324

Bohm 3b

4

1

1

2

0

0

.307

Troutwine c

4

0

0

0

0

1

.276

Dugas rf

2

0

0

0

1

0

.306

Vickers ss

3

0

0

0

0

1

.300

Tinkham dh

2

0

0

0

1

0

.235

Kirk 2b

2

0

0

0

0

0

.443

Ritter 2b

1

0

1

0

0

0

.281

Totals

28

2

3

2

4

5

Bradley

Mangieri dh

4

0

2

1

0

1

.319

Gaa 3b

4

1

1

1

0

0

.333

Leffler ss

2

1

2

2

2

0

.321

Solka 1b

4

0

0

0

0

3

.284

Gruener lf

4

0

0

0

0

4

.274

Shadid cf

4

0

1

0

0

2

.293

Kristan c

4

1

2

0

0

0

.290

Gasso 2b

4

2

3

1

0

0

.321

Wilkin rf

2

0

0

0

0

2

.258

Totals

32

5

11

5

2

12

Wichita St.

200

000

000

2 3 0

Bradley

003

010

01x

5 11 1

E — Gruener (3). DP — Bradley 2. LOB — WSU 3, Bradley 7. 2B — Leffler (20), Gaa (13), Gasso (5). HR — Bohm (6), Leffler (2). S — Wilkin 2 (9). SB — Gaa 2 (9).

Wichita State

ip

h

r

er

bb

so

era

Lewis L,2-9

5

7

4

4

1

6

5.96

Biechler

1

1

0

0

0

2

3.68

Jones

1

1

0

0

1

2

5.49

Williams

1

2

1

1

0

2

6.27

Bradley

Dennis W,9-3

7 1/3

3

2

2

4

4

3.89

Olson

1

0

0

0

0

1

4.31

Beer S,7

 2/3

0

0

0

0

0

3.80

WP — Jones (11), Dennis (8). PB — Kristan (7). Umpires — home, Charlie Clemons; first, Mike Droll; second, Tim Catton; third, Scott Behn. T — 2:22.

Paul Suellentrop: 316-269-6760, @paulsuellentrop

MVC Tournament

At Terre Haute, Ind.

Wednesday’s Games

  • No. 4 Southern Illinois 4, No. 5 Evansville 3
  • No. 1 Dallas Baptist 9, No. 8 Illinois St. 5
  • No. 3 Bradley 5, No. 6 Wichita St. 2
  • No. 7 Missouri St. 12, No. 2 Indiana St. 4

Thursday’s Games

  • Evansville (27-26) vs. Illinois State (17-36), 8 a.m.
  • Indiana State (34-20) vs. Wichita State (21-36), 11:30
  • Southern Illinois (31-23) vs. Dallas Baptist (38-17), 3 p.m.
  • Missouri State (35-19) vs. Bradley (28-19), 6:30

Friday’s Games

Losers bracket — 8 a.m., 11:30 a.m.

Winners bracket — 3 p.m., 6:30 p.m.

Saturday’s Games

If necessary — 10 a.m., 2 p.m.

Championship — 6 p.m

  • All games on ESPN3.com

Wichita State vs. Indiana State

When: 11:30 a.m. Thursday

Where: Warn Field, Terre Haute, Ind.

Radio: KNSS, 1330-AM

Internet: ESPN3.com

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