News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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May 21, 2014

MVC Tournament: Sycamores fizzle out in loss to Bears

Missouri State survives to third day

TERRE HAUTE — A good chunk of Indiana State's baseball season has been devoted to numbers. The Sycamores' high RPI rank, its standing in the coaches' poll, or its solid position in the Missouri Valley Conference standings.

ISU's Missouri Valley Conference Tournament performance could be boiled down to numbers too, but not ones the Sycamores will relish. One of those numbers is three -- representing the amount of runs ISU scored in two days --the other is .181, which is what the Sycamores batted in that span.

Those numbers produced a predictable result. Facing a win-or-go-home scenario in the tournament it's hosting, ISU fell flat in a 9-1 loss to Missouri State.

It's the first time since 2007 that a tournament host went two-and-out on its home field. That's salt in the wounds of the Sycamores, but their primary worry is themselves.

ISU just didn't have the plate approach it needed to produce runs as it didn't work counts -- Missouri State starter Cody Schumacher retired ISU on four pitches in one inning. ISU's pitching and defense wasn't up to its season standard either.

The Sycamores themselves didn't have many answers as to why they fell flat.

"It's baseball. The postseason is all about who gets hot at the right time. We had some scuffle games late in the season we had to come back and win. We weren't the hot team towards the end. That's not going to faze us. We'll get back to work," ISU catcher Mike Fitzgerald said.

"It was hard to get the ball rolling at the plate. It was hard to get any momentum going when the hits don't fall," ISU designated hitter Cody Zimmerman said. "We can learn a lot from these two games. We can't just brush them aside. We have to get to work. We have to work on our approach at the plate and come out ready to play."

For ISU coach Mitch Hannahs, the Sycamores' slump confirmed fears he had going into the tournament.

"We were concerned about our offense because it didn't feel like we were putting together good at-bats the last two weeks. We were jumpy at the plate the last few days. I think it's human nature to press a little bit down the stretch," Hannahs said.

Missouri State touched up ISU starter Brad Lombard for four runs in the third to begin ISU's misery.

Uncharacteristically for ISU, errors helped fuel the Bears' rally. An error by ISU shortstop Tyler Wampler put Aaron Meyer on to start the frame. After Trey Massenberg drew a walk, Joey Hawkins drove Meyer and Massenburg with a two-run single to center.

Two more runs came across later when Dylan Becker singled to center. The ball took a bad hop past ISU center fielder Landon Curry, allowing both Bears on-base at the time to score and make it 4-0.

"We played teams with nothing to lose. They can relax with no fear of anything. It's one-sided pressure and we didn't do a good job of handling it," Hannahs said.

Hannahs went to Ryan Keaffaber to pitch the middle innings, and for 3 2/3 innings, the MVC Freshman of the Year didn't allow a hit. ISU scratched a run back in sixth on a Derek Hannahs RBI single.

ISU couldn't muster any more offense as Schumacher was stellar. The Missouri State pitcher struck out five in a solid eight-inning effort.

Missouri State put the Sycamores away with a five-run fifth off a tired Keaffaber and ineffective Josh Dove. The Bears (24-30) bounced back after being on the wrong end of a walk-off loss to Dallas Baptist on Tuesday.

"[Schumacher] was the key. When you come off something like that, you need to come out of the gate good," Missouri State coach Keith Guttin said. "It's painful to say, but we've had a lot of practice coming off excrutiating losses, but the next day, we're a different team."

ISU believes it has the resume to be selected to play in the NCAA Tournament, but it will be an uneasy five days until Selection Monday.

ISU's RPI is 23rd at present, and by that standard, should be selected for a NCAA regional, but their three-game losing streak -- only the second time ISU has had skid that long this season -- was ill-timed.

"You're always worried because there's a human element that comes into it. We feel like we've done enough over the long haul that we should have an opportunity, but that's a biased opinion," Hannahs said.

INDIANA STATE (AB-R-H-BI) -- Curry cf 4-0-0-0, Zimmerman dh 4-0-0-0, Hayes rf 2-1-1-0, Fitzgerald c 3-0-0-0, McClain lf 3-0-1-0, Hannahs 2b 4-0-1-1, Eberle 3b 4-0-0-0, Zahn 1b 4-0-0-0, Wampler ss 3-0-0-0. TOTALS 31-1-3-1.

MISSOURI STATE (AB-R-H-BI) -- Graham dh 1-0-0-0, Dezort dh 2-0-0-0, Hair dh 1-0-1-2, Hawkins ss 4-1-1-2, Matheny cf 5-0-0-0, Drake rf 4-2-2-0, Becker 3b 4-0-3-1, Johnson 1b 2-1-0-0, Cheray c 3-1-1-1, Meyer 2b 4-2-0-0, Massenberg lf 2-1-0-0, Wilson ph 1-1-1-2, Kay lf 0-0-0-0. TOTALS 33-9-9-8.

Indiana State=000=001=000=--=1

Missouri State=004=000=05X=--=9


E -- Curry (2), Wampler (7); Becker (13). LOB -- ISU 7, MSU 6. 2B -- Wilson (4). S -- Graham (3). SB -- Becker(12).

Indiana State

=IP=H=R=ER=BB=SO


Lombard (L, 6-3)=3 1/3=4=4=1=1=0

Keaffaber=4 1/3=3=4=4=3=2

Dove=1/3=2=1=1=0=0

Missouri State

=IP=H=R=ER=BB=SO


Schumacher (W, 6-2)=8=3=1=1=3=5

Powers=1=0=0=0=0=1

HBP -- by Schumacher (Fitzgerald), by Dove (Hawkins). T -- 2:33.

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