TERRE HAUTE —
A hip injury suffered by Indiana State ace starting pitcher Sean Manaea shuffled the Sycamores’ starting rotation for the second weekend running as it opened a Missouri Valley Conference home series against Creighton on Friday.
After he pitched in last Sunday’s series finale at Wichita State, Manaea did not start Friday and was saved for today’s middle game of the series.
The pitching personnel have been scrambled, but it hasn’t mixed-up the Sycamores.
Devin Moore saw to that.
ISU’s Saturday starter had Friday-type stuff against the Bluejays. Moore struck out six and loomed large as the Sycamores notched a 6-1 victory on a chilly evening at Bob Warn Field.
“I’m just keeping this thing going. Sean will be back on Fridays soon, so I’m doing what I can help out,” said Moore, who’s been excellent all season as his ERA dropped to 2.34 after the victory.
ISU (15-13) won its third straight and got back to .500 in the MVC with a 5-5 mark.
Creighton, in first place entering the contest, fell into a three-way tie with Missouri State and Wichita State.
Moore threw 121 pitches in the contest, but 70 were for strikes and the senior was strong in his final frame as two of his strikeouts occurred in the seventh inning.
Moore’s pitch count was up as he battled through inconsistent control early in the contest, but was able to fight through it.
“I thought he was great and the reason I thought it was great is he had to battle through some things tonight,” ISU coach Rick Heller said. “He had some jams he had to work out of. He fell behind in the count, but he battled and took us deep into the game.”
ISU’s bats also continued their April revival. The Sycamores reached the 10-hit mark for the fourth-straight contest after they had struggled through the first third of the campaign. ISU was also patient as it drew five walks.
“Once the hits start coming the pressure on the hitters goes away. We’re not pressing right now. We’re going up there loose. It’s helping out a lot,” ISU first baseman Robby Ort said.
ISU never trailed in the contest. Jacob Hayes knocked in Cody Zimmerman in the first via a single off Creighton starter Tommy Strunc, who played for the Terre Haute Rex last season.
Creighton tied the game in the third, but the frame also might have included the play that pushed the Sycamores over the top.
With the bases loaded and no outs, Creighton’s Jake Peter hard a sharp grounder up the middle. ISU shortstop Tyler Wampler made a diving stab, got on his feet for the force out at second, and threw to first on-time for a double play. The spectacular play helped limit Creighton’s damage to one run.
“Tyler Wampler was outstanding. The play he made at shortstop tonight was probably the play of the game for us. He made a few others that were outstanding. The defense tonight was tremendous and it started with Wampler,” Heller said.
The benefits were reaped in the bottom of the third. Landon Curry led off with a single and went to third on a steal and error. Koby Kraemer walked and Ort stepped up. On a 1-1 count, Ort pulled a hung slider over the trees down the right field line for a three-run home run.
It was Ort’s first homer of the season, it was ISU’s first round-tripper hit at Warn Field, and it was ISU’s fourth of the season. The Sycamores led 4-1.
Creighton (18-7, 5-2) was de-fanged after its third inning near-miss and didn’t threaten again. More excellent defensive play helped ISU’s cause. Wampler had another diving stab on force out in the fifth. Second baseman Jordan Pearson and Moore teamed up for a nifty 4-1 putout in the seventh. ISU turned three double plays in the contest.
ISU tacked on two more runs with two outs in the seventh via a Hayes RBI groundout and Pearson RBI single.
The series resumes at 2 p.m. today as Manaea faces Creighton’s Nick Musec.
ISU 6, Creighton 1
CREIGHTON (AB-R-H-RBI) — McKewon lf 2-0-1-0; Castagnini 3b 3-0-1-0; Peter 2b 4-0-0-0; Gerber cf 4-0-0-0; Staehely ss 4-0-0-0; Fowler 1b 1-0-0-0; Clouthier pr 0-0-0-0; Murphy rf 4-0-1-0; Makovicka dh 2-0-0-0; Fitzgerald ph 1-0-0-0; Lamb c 2-1-1-0. TOTALS 27-1-4-0.
INDIANA STATE (AB-R-H-RBI) — Curry cf 5-1-1-0; Zimmerman dh 1-1-0-0; Zahn ph 1-0-0-0; Hannahs dh 1-1-1-0; Kraemer 3b 4-1-1-0; Ort 1b 4-1-3-3; Hayes rf 4-1-1-2; McCurdy lf 3-0-1-0; Conway lf 0-0-0-0; Pearson 2b 4-0-1-1; Fitzgerald c 4-0-1-0; Wampler ss 4-0-0-0. TOTALS 35-6-10-6.
Creighton 001 000 000 — 1
Indiana State 103 000 20X — 6
E — Staehely (6), Lamb (2); Moore (2). DP — ISU 3. LOB — CU 6, ISU 11. 2B — Castagnini (4); Hannahs (1). 3B — Ort (4). HR — Ort (1). SH — Castagnini (10). SB — Curry (13), Hannahs (4), Kraemer (6), Hayes (6). CS — McKewon (1).
CREIGHTON (IP-H-R-ER-BB-SO) — Strunc 5-4-4-4-5-0; Warren 2-5-2-2-0-1; Elman 1-1-0-0-1-1.
INDIANA STATE (IP-H-R-ER-BB-SO) — Moore 7-4-1-0-3-6; Dove 2-0-0-0-1-1.
W — Moore (3-3). L — Strunc (4-1).
HBP — by Moore (McKewon); by Done (McKewon). PB — Fitzgerald (3). T: 2:38. A — 619.
Next — ISU (15-13, 5-5) plays host to Creighton (18-7, 5-2) at 2 p.m. today.