Indiana State trailed through the first six innings, tied the game in the seventh, and then scored the game winner in the 10th as the Sycamores rallied for a 4-3 extra inning win over the host Bradley Braves Friday night at Dozer Stadium.
Indiana State clinched the second seed in next week’s Missouri Valley Conference tournament which will be played on Bob Warn Field at Sycamore Stadium in Terre Haute. The Sycamores (35-13 overall and 14-6 in the MVC) have one game left on the regular season and it is an important one as Indiana State goes up against Bradley (22-25, 4-16 MVC) at 2 p.m. (ET) Saturday.
The race for most of the seeds in next week’s tournament may have been wrapped up today but Indiana State can still claim a portion of the 2014 regular season championship should the Sycamores beat Bradley Saturday and Evansville lose at Missouri State. The Bears topped the Aces 8-1 Friday as Indiana State climbed to within a game of the league leader.
After tying the game with two runs in the seventh, Indiana State missed opportunities to move in front in both the eighth and ninth innings as they left a runner stranded in scoring position. That would not happen again in the 10th. Brian Romero flew out to center to open the innig but Tyler Wampler walked and stole second, his 10th stolen base of the season.
Wampler was able to reach third when Jeff Zahn grounded out to second and scored what turned out to be the game winner on a single through the right side by Connor McClain. Indiana State tried to add an insurance run as McClain successfully stole second but he was left stranded when Derek Hannahs struck out.
Coach Mitch Hannahs called on his freshman stopper, Ryan Keaffaber, to preserve the victory in the bottom half of the 10th. The Sycamore left hander got Isaac Smith to fly out to left but walked Chris Godinez. Spencer Gaa attempted a sacrifice bunt but Keaffaber picked up the ball and threw to second to eliminate Godinez.
However, Max Murphy was called safe at first on a close play after hitting the ball to Wampler at short. With Bradley threatening to tie or take the win, Keaffaber got Greg Partyka to hit down the first base line which was picked up by Zahn who tagged first to end the game.
Brad Lombard opened the ame on the mound for Indiana State, going six innings in allowing three runs on six hits while striking out six and walking one. Nick Kolark faced five batters in 1.2 innings and retired each one with Trent Lunsford (2-2) taking over in the eighth to record the win after holding the Braves without a hit or a run while striking out one. Keaffaber earned his 11th save of the season, allowing no runs on one hit while striking out none and walking one.
Indiana State had a great opportunity to break out on top in the first inning when Landon Curry ended up at second after reaching on a Bradley error to open the game. The Sycamore center fielder made it to third but was left stranded.
Bradley did not miss on their opportunity in the bottom half of the first. Chris Godinez led off with a single through the right side and advanced to second on Spencer Gaa’s sacrifice bunt. He scored on Max Murphy’s single up the middle with Murphy scoring after back-to-back singles by Greg Patryka and Tyler Leffler.
The Sycamores scored their first run of the game in the fifth after Wampler reached on an error and went to second as Zahn grounded out to second. McClain followed with a bunt single to put runners at the corner and Wampler crossed the plate with the first Indiana State run on a Curry single.
Bradley got that run back in the bottom half of the fifth when Godinez walked, stole second, and scored on a Murphy single.
Indiana State rallied to draw even with the Braves in the seventh with two runs on two hits, a walk and a Bradley error. McClain got the Sycamore offense going with a one-out single to left and was safe at second as Hannahs reached on a fielder’s choice that was mishandled by the Braves second baseman. Cody Zimmerman followed with a two out walk before Hayes belted a single into right center that scored McClain and Hannahs.
Connor McClain led the Sycamores at the plate with three singles in five trips. Tyler Wampler had two singles while Landon Curry, Jacob Hayes, and Jeff Zahn had a single each.