News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Indiana State University

May 19, 2012

ISU game plan isn’t executed: Sycamores fall 7-5 to Bears

TERRE HAUTE — The cement for Indiana State’s regular season Missouri Valley Conference championship has hardened. But ISU still has concrete to pour when it comes to its MVC Tournament and NCAA Tournament aspirations.

ISU wants to finish the regular season with a flourish, but it also wants to get the team ready for an MVC Tournament run in Springfield, Mo., next week.

The Sycamores tried to square those two missions against Missouri State on Friday, but didn’t pull it off. Missouri State rallied against ISU’s bullpen for a series-evening 7-5 victory at Warn Field.

Heller had ISU starter Sean Manaea on a pitch count as he intends to use Manaea in the first game of the MVC Tournament (see related story). Manaea wasn’t his best, but ISU led when he exited the game, so everything was more or less according to plan at that point.

But Missouri State scored four runs against ISU’s bullpen, including three in the eighth off Reggie Hochstedler.

“The plan worked perfectly. The guys we had at the back end we were ready to go, but they didn’t get the job done,” ISU coach Rick Heller said.

“The worst thing we did was score runs and then give them back. It’s the worst thing you can do. Our staff prides itself on putting zeros up after we score and we didn’t do that,” Heller added.

ISU got on the board first in the second inning. Rob Ort reached on an error and scored on a triple to deep center by Lucas Hileman. A Ryan Walterhouse sacrifice fly made it 2-0.

Missouri State answered with a run in the third inning, but ISU tacked on two more runs in its half of the frame. Consecutive two-out singles by Jeremy Lucas, Ort and Jon Hedges fueled the rally as ISU took a 4-1 lead.

The Bears (36-18, 12-7) then put together a power display rarely seen in an era of deadened bats. Keenen Maddox and Derek Mattea hit back-to-back home runs to leadoff the fourth and the Bears knocked their deficit down to 4-3.

Manaea exited the game after the fourth and the game was turned over to ISU’s bullpen. All went well until the seventh. Kevin Medrano led off the inning with a double off Tyler Pazik. Chris Machado then entered the fray and gave up a game-tying triple to Luke Voit to make it 4-4.

ISU (41-14, 14-6) responded in its half of the seventh. Kyle Burnam got a one-out single, and with two outs, got an uncontested steal of second. Seemed innocent, but Ort made it matter with a RBI single to left to make it 5-4.

But ISU’s lead was short-lived. ISU turned to Reggie Hochstedler in eighth.

Brock Chaffin led off with a single and reserve Patrick Drake drilled a two-run home run to left. MSU took a 6-5 lead. Hochstedler later gave up a double by Spiker Helms that missed leaving yard by inches. Helms would later come around to score on a sacrifice fly to make it 7-5.

“I’ve left pitches up and today my stuff was. You can’t do that against any team,” Hochstedler said. “I have to get ahead of hitters because then you can mix it up.”

Hochstedler has been ISU’s best reliever during the season (2.40 ERA, .239 batting average against), but he’s struggled in his last three outings. He’s given up four earned runs in his last 1/3 of an inning.

“He hasn’t been locating and he’s up in the zone. He’s a soft lefty that relies on location and deception. If he doesn’t locate, he’ll get hit. You saw that tonight. He left pitches up and they hammered him,” Heller said.

The series concludes at 1 p.m. today. Ryan Torgerson (8-2, 3.04) faces Pierce Johnson (2-6, 2.85). If it can win, ISU will win each of its MVC series this season.

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