WICHITA, Kan. - The Indiana State baseball team rallied from an early 5-1 deficit to take the opening game of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament by a score of 8-7 in 10 innings over the Creighton Bluejays. Senior Ben Ferrell delivered a single into the right-center field gap to give the Sycamores the win at Eck Stadium in front of 2,738 baseball fans.
Creighton (26-24) jumped out to the early 5-1 lead on Tuesday by scoring once in the top of the first inning on a single by right fielder TJ Roemmich and four more times in the second inning on five singles.
Indiana State (34-17) briefly re-tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the first inning, when freshman Jeremy Lucas hit a bases loaded sacrifice fly to center field. The inning could have been much worse for the Bluejays, however, as center fielder Robbie Knight robbed an extra-base hit by senior Ryan Strausborger with a diving catch deep in the left-center field gap.
The Sycamores looked primed for another big inning in the bottom of the third inning after Strausborger, sophomore Kyle Burnam and senior Luke Fieser began the inning with back-to-back-to-back singles, the last one from Fieser driving in Strausborger from second base. But that was all that the ISU offense could put together in the inning, as the next three Sycamores were retired to keep Creighton ahead at 5-2.
ISU chipped one more run off of the CU lead in the bottom of the fourth inning when the two transfers from Northern Iowa combined at the plate. Junior Levi Ferguson led off the inning with a single deep into the hole between first and second base. As Bluejay second baseman Alex Staehely attempted to get Ferguson at first base, the throw got away from Creighton starter Jonas Dufek and rolled towards the dugout, allowing Ferguson to reach third base on the play. Senior Grant Grgurich stepped up next and dropped a hit into shallow right-center field to bring Ferguson home and cut the Creighton to two runs, at 5-3.
After a home run in the top of the sixth inning by Staehely gave Creighton a 6-3 advantage, the Sycamores took their first lead of the afternoon with a four-run bottom of the sixth inning. Lucas and Graham led off the inning with a pair of singles before Ferguson tallied ISU's first extra base knock of the game with a double over the head of Trevor Adams in left field to plate Lucas.
The Bluejays turned to the bullpen after that, but CU reliever Matt Patterson was called for a balk during an at-bat by Grgurich to allow Graham to score and push Ferguson to third. After a walk by Grgurich and a strikeout, Strausborger grounded a ball to Bluejay first baseman Ian Dike who attempted to turn a double play, but the throw to second went into left field. With runners on the corners, Burnam placed a perfect bunt down the third base line to give ISU a 7-6 lead.
Creighton tied up the score again in the top of the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Staehely, the last scoring before the game headed into extra innings.
Indiana State finished the scoring when the game went to extras, winning the game in the bottom of the tenth inning. Graham led off the inning with a single through the left side of the infield before moving up to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Ferguson. Freshman Jordan Pearson moved Graham to third when his hit up the middle glanced off of CU reliever Mark Winkelman and rolled just past the mound. That brought Ferrell to the plate, who would dropped a single into the shallow right-center field gap just over the outstretched glove of a leaping Staehely at second base.
Junior Jacob Petricka started the game for the Sycamores, but received a no-decision after tossing eight innings. Petricka struck out 10 batters on Tuesday, pushing his season total to 113. That ranks Petricka in a tie for fifth most in ISU history with Casey Whitten from the 1992 season. Senior Scott Harlan (4-3) picked up the victory by working two innings of relief. Harlan struck out the side in the ninth and recorded all three outs in the top of the tenth to put ISU in position to win the game.
Every Sycamore that came to plate on Tuesday recorded at least one hit, led by Graham who tallied three. Of the seven RBIs that the team totaled, seven different players drove in a single run.
This was the first win in the MVC Tournament for Indiana State since the 2005 season, when the team defeated Southern Illinois, 5-4. ISU did not go the postseason tournament from 2006-2008 and was swept in three games last season.
The Sycamores will play at 5:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday against the second seeded Illinois State Redbirds, who defeated #7 Bradley, 3-0, following ISU's win over Creighton. The game can be heard live on ESPN Radio AM 1130 & 1300 and online at http://www.espnsportsradio.com.