TERRE HAUTE —
Indiana State pitcher Sean Manaea has battled through so many aches and pains during the 2013 season that it can be hard to discern the serious pain from the pain he pitches through.
Tuesday’s Missouri Valley Conference opener against Creighton was a perfect case. Manaea felt shoulder pain prior to ISU’s matchup with the Bluejays, but no one knew how serious it was until he took the mound.
“We thought it was normal soreness after his last start because he’s been pushing it a little bit coming back from the hip. It just didn’t loosen up and then he said it didn’t feel right when he was out there. We didn’t want to risk it,” ISU coach Rick Heller said.
Manaea never threw an official pitch in ISU’s 4-3 win over Creighton. After he slumped in pain on the mound after his warm-ups, he walked dejectedly back to the dugout.
“It was definitely a disappointment. I felt some unease in my shoulder trying to come back from short rest,” Manaea said. “At first, I was angry. I wanted to go out and help my team out. I took a timeout and I went in the dugout to cheer them on. It kind of sucks, but I’ll have to move past it and hopefully things will work out.”
What’s germane to both Manaea and ISU is his availability for the remainder of the tournament. Neither Manaea nor Heller would confirm what his status was.
Manaea had no ice on his shoulder after the game. He even had a backpack strapped over both of his shoulders.
“I’m just going to try and work hard and see if I can get it back together and get myself on the mound later in the tournament,” said Manaea, when asked about his status.
Devin Moore is scheduled to pitch today’s game against Southern Illinois.
• Galvanizing win — Josh Negele’s excellent pitching performance under duress on Tuesday is the kind of win a team can ride to success in a tournament scenario.
At least that’s what ISU is hoping for.
“There’s definitely some momentum you build after a game like this. But momentum is only good if you use it. We’ve got to be ready to play against a good team [today],” ISU third baseman Koby Kraemer said.
Creighton knows this as well as any team. The Bluejays beat the Sycamores 5-0 in the 2012 MVC Tournament opener and rode the wave to the MVC Tournament championship.
• Early risers — ISU has played in the 9 a.m. local time tournament opener in three of the last four years. In each case, ISU won and gave itself a chance.
ISU defeated (and eventually eliminated) Creighton at Wichita State in 2010. ISU defeated Illinois State at Creighton in 2011.
A trend ISU is hoping to end is its performance in its second game. During the last three times ISU won its MVC Tournament opener, it lost its second game. The last time ISU started the MVC Tournament 2-0 was in 2001. That season, ISU advanced to the championship game, but lost to Heller’s Northern Iowa team 13-10.
In each of those previous three second-day losses, ISU played a high-seeded team. Today, No. 6-seeded ISU will be the home team against No. 7-seeded SIU.