WICHITA, Kan. - Behind a career-high tying nine strikeouts over seven innings from freshman Sean Manaea, the Indiana State baseball team shut out the Wichita State Shockers 6-0 on Saturday afternoon, evening the weekend Missouri Valley Conference series.
The win improves the Sycamores to 25-23 on the season and 7-10 inside the conference while the Shockers fall to 31-24 overall, 10-7 in league play.
Indiana State got moving quickly on Saturday, as sophomore Robby Ort hit his team-leading ninth home run of the season with two outs in the bottom of the first inning. Ort also led ISU in home runs as a freshman last season, with five.
The Sycamores added to their lead in innings three through five, pushing their advantage to 6-0 after the top of the fifth inning.
In the third, junior Jeff Miera led off the inning with a bunt single up the first base line, before moving to second on a sacrifice bunt by fellow junior Kyle Burnam. The Sycamores loaded the bases after that, as sophomore Koby Kraemer singled through the left side of the infield and Ort was hit by a pitch. ISU scored their run for a 2-0 lead when sophomore Jeremy Lucas hit a sacrifice fly to center field.
In the fourth, junior Lucas Hileman started the frame by singling through the right side of the infield before a sacrifice bunt by freshman Tyler Wampler moved Hileman to second. Miera gave ISU a 3-0 lead when he came up with two outs in the inning, dropping a RBI-single into shallow left field.
Indiana State doubled their lead in the fifth, tallying three runs in the inning to go up 6-0. Kraemer began the rally with a single into left-center field, advancing to second on a wild pitch, before scoring when Ort hit the left-center field gap for a single of his own. Lucas followed with a double into the right-center field gap, moving Ort over to third and allowing junior Jon Hedges to pick up a RBI with a single through the left side of the infield. The Sycamores scored their final run of the inning on a groundout by Hileman.
Manaea (5-3) turned in his best performance of his career on Saturday, tossing his first career shutout. The ISU freshman went seven strong innings on 111 pitches, tying his career high with nine strikeouts. Seniors Brett Merkley and Blake Drake both came out of the bullpen to secure the shutout and the victory, each tossing one scoreless inning in relief.
The Sycamores were the last team to shut out the Shockers, coming in the series opener between the schools last season in Terre Haute when ISU won 2-0 on April 16, 2010. The last time that WSU was shut out at home during MVC play was on April 19, 2008, against Southern Illinois.
Miera led ISU with a 3-for-3 effort at the plate, while also picking up a RBI. Ort topped the Sycamores with a pair of RBIs and runs scored, including his team-leading ninth home run of the season.
The Sycamores and Shockers will decide the series at 2:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, as ISU will send senior Jason Van Skike (4-3, 3.55 ERA) to the mound against WSU's Josh Smith (5-3, 3.92 ERA). The same matchup came on Sunday between the schools last year in Terre Haute, with Wichita State coming out on top 5-2, behind a two-hitter over 7.2 innings from Smith. The rubber match can be heard live on ESPN Radio AM 1300.
Postgame comments from head coach Rick Heller: