Scores: Evansville 12, Wichita State 11 – WSU 11, UE 1 (8 innings) – WSU 9, UE 2
Records: UE 19-14, 1-5 MVC; WSU 23-16, 3-3
Bottom line: We will find out more about WSU’s offense this week. The Shockers beat up Evansville’ s pitchers, but the Aces are short-handed after losing their top two starters to injury. Oklahoma State ranks third in the Big 12 with a 2.90 ERA. Illinois State leads the MVC with a 3.31 ERA. Did the Shockers unlock their potential? Did they feast on a weak staff? Stay tuned. Regardless, the Shockers stayed alive in the MVC race. They need to start sweeping, however, to stay in it.
Weekend wonders: Starting pitchers Charlie Lowell and Brian Flynn controlled one of the MVC’s top lineups. Flynn’s Sunday performance is particularly important. WSU needs him to pitch to his potential, and he did so with eight strikeouts in seven innings. He worked out of trouble in the middle innings without giving up a big number and that’s progress. A weekend rotation of Josh Smith-Lowell-Flynn is good enough to win the MVC if it performs at close to its peak. DH Preston Springer went 6-13 with three home runs and is hitting .370 with 13 RBIs in six MVC games. C Chris’ O’Brien took over the MVC RBIs lead (52) with seven against the Aces. 1B Johnny Coy went 8-15 with six runs and a homer. SS Tyler Grimes went 7 for 12. He reached base five times on Sunday, three times hit by a pitch. The bottom of the order produced – LF Micah Green went 2-3 Saturday, LF Zach Stucky went 2-3 Friday and 3B Tyler Coughenour went 1-2 with a walk on Sunday.
Weekend woes: Reliever Grant Muncrief gave up five runs and three hits – in miserable weather – while recording two outs in a Friday appearance, helping WSU blow an 8-3 lead. Defensive problems continue to cause problems. WSU committed three errors on Friday and two on Sunday.
The other dugout: Evansville’s hitting will make it a dangerous weekend opponent. At 1-5, it is out of the MVC race because its pitching depth is weak. The Aces lost their No. 1 and No. 2 starters to injury early in the season. It’s tough to recover from that. 3B/P Cody Fick is quite a player. Will he be fresh for the MVC Tournament? Not if he keeps throwing 136 pitches, as he did Sunday.
Around the MVC: Creighton put itself in the drivers seat in the MVC by sweeping at Indiana State. The Bluejays are 5-1 after playing two road series. Illinois State swept Bradley, scoring 28 runs in three games, to go to 4-2 in the MVC.
What’s next: WSU plays at Oklahoma State at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Illinois State visits Eck Stadium this weekend.
- If you’re wondering about the new bats – here is an analysis of the change.