Final: WSU 5, OSU 3: There have been a lot of big-game pitchers at WSU, so it’s dangerous to start talking in superlatives about the latest. Aaron Shafer is up there after Saturday’s performance. Read More
Final: WSU 5, OSU 3: There have been a lot of big-game pitchers at WSU, so it’s dangerous to start talking in superlatives about the latest. Aaron Shafer is up there after Saturday’s performance. Read More »
WSU 8, TCU 5, a final. The Frogs homer again. The Shockers play at 7 p.m., Saturday in the winners bracket final. Read More »
All four teams are here in sunny Stillwater. The Cowboys are done. WSU has about 20 minutes remaining for BP before it hits the interview sessions. TCU just arrived. Read More »
WSU 12, MSU 10, a final: Gillaspie, in what is likely his last Eck Stadium appearance, goes out with a performance for the ages. 4 for 5, two home runs, 5 RBIs. WSU wins its first tournament since 2005 and takes a six-game win streak – its longest since it won 19 earlier in the spring – into an NCAA regional. Read More »
WSU 20, MSU 3, a final: Weber drives in six. Gillaspie drives in five. A tournament beatdown of the Bears that ranks with the 15-1 2004 championship game victory by WSU.
WSU 14, MSU 3: Tyler Weber hits a two-run homer.
WSU 12, MSU 3, bottom of the fifth: Gillaspie hits a two-run homer.
Here’s the question circulating in the pressbox. In this format, with MSU playing at 7 tonight, should the Bears basically pack it in? It is to their advantage to get this game over quickly, save their bullpen and get some rest before tonight. They could come back from nine runs down, but it’s not likely. Their attention is on the three games in less than 24 hours they must win to win the tournament. Your answer, in part, is MSU’s decision to bring in Jon Barnes (8.90 ERA) in relief in the second inning. If nothing else, coach Keith Guttin is saving his bullpen as much as possible.
WSU 9, MSU 0, bottom of the second: MSU starter Buddy Baumann blew up in the second. He walked the No. 9 hitter and hit Dirks with an 0-2 pitch. After intentionally walking Gillaspie, he walked McKeever on four pitches. Tyler Hill drove in two runs with a single off reliever Jon Barnes.
WSU 3, MSU 0. An error by MSU 2B Chris Playter allows two runs to score. Andy Dirks moves his hitting streak to 25 games and his on-base streak to 69 games with a double.
WSU-MSU is 20 minutes away. No surprises in either lineup. Kevin Hall remains in left for WSU against a lefty. I would think WSU would like to get Kenny Williams some at-bats this tournament to get back in a groove. Hall has been a bit of a late-season revelation. Coaches really liked him early in the spring, but he didn’t hit. He has hits in the four straight games and is 6 for 11 with five RBIs.
SIU 6, Creighton 5, a final. SIU coach Dan Callahan not happy with his team’s body language in the ninth, but the Salukis survive to play at 7 tonight. Creighton coach Ed Servais is even more unhappy with the new tournament format that forced his team to play three games in 24 hours Wednesday and Thursday and a fourth Friday at 11 a.m.
“You couldn’t ask for more disadvantages,” he said. “It’s ludicrous to play four games in 48 hours and expect your kids to play hard. We’re a third seed and we got screwed.”
SIU 6, Creighton 3, bottom of the eighth: CU’s Steve Winklelmann hits a two-run homer to close the gap. SIU is three outs away from a 7 p.m. game against the WSU-MSU loser.
SIU 6, Creighton 1, two outs in the seventh: The Salukis have scored three in the inning to open up a gap.
SIU 3, Creighton 1, bottom of the seventh: SIU keeps wasting runners, but Creighton can’t take advantage. Is it good pitching on the third day of the tournament or bad hitting?
SIU 3, Creighton 1 in the third. SIU’s Mark Kelly hits a two-run homer to left.
Creighton 1, SIU 0, bottom of the first.
Expect some Ehimen Orukpe news tomorrow. Wichita State basketball coach Gregg Marshall said to expect a news release on Friday updating fans on the Nigerian center. I would think this is good news.
WSU 12, SIU, a final. Probably sets up a must-win game for both teams tomorrow when WSU plays Missouri State. The loser must win three in two days to come back. I don’t see that either team has that much pitching left after they throw No. 2 tomorrow.
WSU 10, SIU 0 after three: Gillaspie drives in two with a single. The Shockers are bunting and running with great enthusiasm.
WSU 7, SIU 0 after two: Shockers add three with the gnat attack. Four hits, none of which, carried much past the turf.
WSU 4, SIU 0 after one: Joy’s 10th inning against WSU did not go nearly as well as the first nine this season. Tyler Weber provides the big blow with a two-run double with two outs. Mark Kelly is catching for SIU, which means we will likely see WSU run. The Shockers stole nine bases against him in the Friday game, a 10-0 win. Kelly DH’ed the next two games.
SIU-WSU is under way. The Shockers get another shot at Shawn Joy, who shut them out 3-0 earlier this season.
The MVC reprimands Conor Gillaspie. This strikes me as a little heavy-handed. When a guy can’t stick up for his coach, there’s something wrong somewhere. Reprimanding coaches is one thing. In my mind, let it go. Bringing it up again gives the media an excuse to replay the foolishness that provoked Gillaspie in the first place. Add to this to news Valley schools will play volleyball on Thanksgiving and I have to question the leadership in St. Louis.
CU 4, UNI 2, a final. Steve Winkelmann drives in two runs with a single in the top of the ninth. Winkelmann, to that point, was 0 for 3 in the game and 0 for 7 on the day. Creighton plays at 11 a.m. Friday against the WSU-SIU loser. UNI is eliminated.
UNI 2, CU 2, seventh: The Jays tie it up. Douglas added another spectacular play and saved UNI a run or two. A Creighton batter popped up a ball on the first-base side of the mound that most of the infield lost. Douglas sped past the mound and made a running one-handed catch. With two runners on and two outs, it was almost disaster for the Panthers.
UNI 2, CU 1, in the sixth: UNI coach Rick Heller is looking smart for throwing Taylor Sinclair yesterday and using Derek Ott today. To this point, it is working. Ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte is in for the Jays, with a runner on first and no outs. Brandon Douglas has made two sparkling plays at short for the Panthers. If he can stay healthy, the Panthers may have some life left in this tournament.
Let’s take a look at an idea for the MVC Tournament that Creighton SID Rob Anderson came up with. It is a six-team field but with more of a pool-play look than brackets. It guarantees each team three games and no more than four. No crazy doubleheaders, like Creighton is doing now. No burning through a whole pitching staff. No one-day stays like Bradley had.
For example, the top seed will play the No. 4, 5 and 6 seeds. The No. 2 seed will play No. 3, 5 and 6. The No. 6 seed will play No. 1, 2 and 3. Those games are played, three a day, for three days. On the fourth day, the top two teams play a championship game.
The plan may need some tweaking. Determining tiebreakers will be a chore. You’re going to have some meaningless games on the third day. And you’re going to have a 2-1 team beat a 3-0 team in the championship. But it seems like a system that is worth looking into. The six-team bracket is unwieldy and often unfair, no matter how it is set up. Bringing eight MVC teams to the tournament makes no sense to anybody but coaches. Do we really need to see the seventh and eighth-place teams? No. If six teams are the way to go, this might be a way to do it.
UNI-CU is on. Panther SS Brandon Douglas just doubled and looked better running to second than he did Wednesday. A groin injury is bothering him. Too bad that fans don’t get to see him at full power.
MSU 9, CU 5, a final: The Bluejays play at 3 p.m. against Northern Iowa. MSU advances to Friday’s 3 p.m. game against the WSU-SIU winner.
Pitching change: MSU 8, CU 3. The Bluejays thought they had a double play to end the inning with no damage. Instead, the runner at second was called safe on a close play. An intentional walk and three singles later, MSU is up by five runs and still batting.
MSU 4, CU 3 after four: The Bears knock out CU starter Mike Nihsen with two doubles and three runs.
CU 3, MSU 1, bottom of the fourth: Four straight singles, a passed ball, wild pitch and error give the Jays three runs.
1-0 after three. Both teams wasted bases-loaded opportunities.
MSU 1, CU 0, bottom of the second: MSU’s Nolan Keane drove in Ben Woodbury with a single. Clubb has given up two hits and four runners.
Creighton vs. Missouri State is under way. Creighton had runners on first and third against MSU pitcher Tim Clubb. It is the first time in 17 2/3 innings Clubb faced more than one runner on base. MSU turned a double play to get out of the inning.
UNI 9, BU 2, a final: Bradley coach Dewey Kalmer announced his retirement after the game. He coached 29 seasons at Bradley and retires as the 34th winningest coach in Division I with 1,032 wins. He is 63 and ready to “drink beer, go dancing and play golf” in Florida.
“My knees feel like I lost a knife fight to a midget,” Kalmer said. “I’ll be 64 years old in September and I’ve coached for 40 years. There won’t be many coaches that last that long. I think coaching is getting more difficult. The kids are harder to handle.”
UNI coach Rick Heller explained throwing his No. 3 starter in relief Wednesday night. He wanted to make sure Taylor Sinclair, a senior, got a chance to throw in the tournament. He also wanted to use his best arm to preserve a 3-1 lead and stay alive. The price is that the Panthers used their three weekend starters in two games Wednesday and still have a game Thursday. If they win, they face two Friday and two Saturday to win the automatic bid. UNI will likely start Derek Ott today. Sinclair could pitch again Friday after throwing 56 pitches. Starter Guido Fonseca labored a bit on his way to 86 pitches and Heller said his arm didn’t feel good, providing another reason to go to Sinclair.
Heller’s move will be debated by Panther fans. It seems like one that helped win Wednesday’s game, but reduced the chances to win the title. Up 3-1 in the sixth inning, a coach really needs to have faith in the bullpen. The chances seemed good to score more runs against Bradley’s shaky pitching. Heller saw the situation differently.
“Taylor’s a guy that can bounce back pretty quick,” Heller said. “When you lose Game 1, it’s tough. When we decided to put Taylor in the game, we weren’t swinging the bat real well. You have to win the game you’re playing to advance.”
Injuries add to UNI’s issues. Shortstop Brandon Douglas is hobbling with a pulled groin. Heller pulled in in the seventh inning and said he may DH today.
The Panthers are alive, but in a tough spot. They face the Creighton-Missouri State loser at 3 p.m. Thursday.
“The last thing we wanted to do is use our three starters in the first day of the tournament,” infielder Brett Douglas said. “That never really works out for you.”
UNI 9, BU 2, in the seventh: UNI is throwing Taylor Sinclair in relief. He has been a weekend starter, so this is a move that needs an explanation. UNI coach Rick Heller called on Sinclair in the sixth inning with a 3-1 lead. Sinclair, a lefty, started eight MVC games and went 5-2. That means in two games, UNI has used four pitchers who started 23 of its 24 MVC games. Mike O’Leary is the lone Panther left who started a conference game.
UNI 8, BU 1, bottom of the seventh: The 40 runs WSU put on Bradley seem routine after today. The Braves have given up 22 in two games and are in danger of getting run-ruled twice.
UNI 3, BU 1 after five. Anybody who thinks the MVC Tournament should expand to eight teams needs to watch this game. It is not inspired. Three errors. Some bad base-running. The pace is proceeding at a crawl. These teams are ready for their season to end.
UNI 1, BU 1 after three: Brett Featherston’s home run tied it in the second. Bradley had two singles, two walks, two stolen bases, a HBP and a UNI error in the first and scored one run.
Northern Iowa-Bradley is under way. One team’s season is a few hours from ending.
Creighton 14, Bradley 2, a final: T.J. Roemmich ended the run-rule game in the eighth with a three-run homer. The Bluejays didn’t need small ball. They blew out the Braves with a nine-run sixth. Creighton plays Missouri State at 11 a.m., Thursday. Bradley plays UNI tonight in an elimination game.
Just talked to Joe Mitch of the MVC office. The tournament will likely return to Eck next season, although that still has to be finalized. Missouri State did not bid because of the Cardinals schedule. Kansas City remains a possibility in the future, but nothing is imminent. He also said Creighton has expressed interest in hosting at Rosenblatt.
Another interesting idea for the future is the possibility of breaking the six-team bracket into pool play with a single championship game. Each team is guaranteed three games, which has pros and cons. It would produce some meaningless games. But for the players and fans it will make the trip worthwhile and might encourage more fans to travel. That format would also mean no team would play more than four games, which reduces the strain on a pitching staff. I guess the downside is that it offers no protection to the top seeds.
Bradley is up 2-0 after Colby Luttrell’s double. No Venditte sighting yet. Soon.
Creighton-Bradley just about ready.
SIU 5, UNI 3, a final. The Panthers scored three in the ninth against a tiring Adams. Tyler Choate got the final out with two runners on.
SIU 5, UNI 0, bottom of the eighth: Owen Mackedon singles in a run. The Salukis are close to the upset, which would likely mean a rematch of WSU against pitcher Shawn Joy. Joy shut out WSU 3-0 in the regular-season meeting at Eck Stadium. SIU, as the fifth seed, plays WSU unless sixth-seeded Bradley beats third-seeded Creighton.
Here’s my suggestion for some of the money coming in for the Building Excellence for the Student-Athlete campaign (the indoor practice facility). WSU needs to build protective screens for the ball girls who sit next to the Shocker dugout. A foul ball almost took out acting Golden Girl Shelley Fetters earlier in this game. I’ve seen them at other ballparks. Naming rights to that should go quickly.
Still 4-0. Adams just got out of his biggest problem so far. He struck out Brandon Douglas on a pitch way outside with runners on first and third with two outs.
SIU 4, UNI 0 in the sixth: Tyler Lairson hit a two-run homer to left off Flattery. It is Lairson’s fourth home run and second against the Panthers.
SIU 2, UNI 0 after five: Adams is cruising. He has allowed two hits and neither runner reached second base. His pitch count is 46, which means he is in good shape to finish strong. Kirk is out. Tin Flattery is taking over.
UNI started Kirk, not their usual No. 1 guy Guido Fonseca. Coach Rick Heller through it was a gamble worth taking. SIU lit up Fonseca for 10 runs in four innings during the regular season.
SIU 2, UNI 0 in the fourth: Two throwing errors cost the Panthers two runs in the inning. Pitcher Nick Kirk threw into center field trying to get the lead run on a bunt. Shortstop Brandon Douglas threw past first base after stopping a bouncing ball with his chest.
UNI 0, SIU 0 after three. SIU’s Cody Adams and UNI’s Nick Kirk are sharp. Adams is throwing hard, working ahead and getting ground balls. Kirk has given up three hits and a walk.
My prediction for the theme this week is blown leads. It was not a great season for MVC relievers. Don’t leave early. Starters, prepare to go as long as possible.
Last season, WSU won the MVC title. Second-place Creighton swept the pitcher and player of the year honors. You didn’t hear much griping. The Shockers were a balanced team with several very good players, and two or three Player of the Year candidates, but nobody that presented an air-tight case.
This season, WSU won the MVC title and again didn’t get either of those top two awards. WSU coaches, fans and players have a problem with the voting, and they should. Center fielder Andy Dirks was my choice. Third baseman Conor Gillaspie is just as good a pick, for his numbers and for everything he means to the other eight batters in the lineup. UNI’s Brandon Douglas won it.
Is this a big deal? Yes and no. Obviously team honors mean more. However, conference honors are part of earning All-America honors. Even the most team-oriented people would admit All-America honors carry some weight.
I usually avoid the “Everybody hates us” complaining by the Shockers. There is some merit to it, but there are also times the conspiracy theories are best ignored. It should be mentioned that in 2006, when WSU finished second behind Evansville, it picked up the Player of the Year (Damon Sublett), Pitcher of the Year (Aaron Shafer) and Freshman of the Year (Shafer) honors.
Besides the obvious, I have two arguments for Dirks or Gillaspie over Douglas.
Add in the fact WSU won the MVC and Northern Iowa finished fourth. To me, that’s an unbeatable case for one of the Shockers.
Douglas is a great player. He is the kind of player that would fit in at WSU. He was overlooked out of high school in Iowa and made himself into a pro prospect. He had an excellent year for a program that deserves credit for battling in a tough weather and scholarship situation. He is all that, but not the Player of the Year in the MVC in my mind.
WSU has two other legitimate gripes. Aaron Shafer and Ryan Jones were not treated well by the other coaches. I can’t imagine that any MVC coach would draft Jeremy Hauer or Guido Fonseca ahead of Shafer. You could even make an argument Shafer and teammate Anthony Capra should switch all-conference spots. Jones is vicimized in part by a strong crop of outfielders. The honorable-mention outfield includes the MVC RBI leader (Brady Shoemaker, Indiana State), and Missouri State’s Nolan Keane. There are a lot of good outfielders in the MVC, and Jones was one of them.
WSU 21, BU 5, a final. MSU loses 10-5 to Northern Iowa. The Shockers play the 7 p.m. game Thursday against the lowest-seeded winner from Wednesday. Great weekend for the Shockers, and we will see if they can keep it up next week against better competition.
WSU 17, BU 1, after four. If not for two bad innings, the Braves would be ahead. Shockers put up nine in the fourth. Every Shocker has a hit, except for Andy Dirks, who has a 22-game hit streak. Dirks is 0-2 with two walks.
UNI 9, MSU 3 in the fifth.
WSU 8, BU 1, bottom of the fourth.
UNI 9, MSU 0. UNI’s Dane Embury hit a grand slam in the third
WSU 8, BU 0 after one. McKeever and Workman hit two-run homers. Gillaspie drove in two with a double. BU starter Collin Brennan fails to record an out. He gave up two walks and six straight hits before departing.
UNI 3, MSU 0, in the second.
Lineups are here: Kevin Hall, with two hits in the past two games, is in left field. BU is starting right-hander Collin Brennan, who is 0-3 with a 6.48 ERA.
WSU is one win away from wrapping at least an MVC co-championship. Should the Shockers win (or Missouri State lose to Northern Iowa) it would be WSU’s first back-to-back MVC titles since 1999-2000. In my mind, four main things changed in the past 10 years that made it tougher for WSU to win the MVC.
Baseball America has mock draft and it projects Conor Gillaspie to go 17th to Toronto.
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