WICHITA, Kan.- The championship game of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament was not a pretty one, but it was less ugly for Wichita State (44-15), as the Shockers picked up their 16th tournament title by defeating the Missouri State Bears (40-17), 12-10, Saturday afternoon.
Conor Gillaspie had the game-winning hit, a solo homerun in the bottom of the eighth, breaking a 10-10 stalemate. Clint McKeever added one more by drawing a walk, advancing on a Workman error and scoring on an error by the pitcher. Logan Hoch and the defense held strong for the top of the ninth, securing the championship title.
Wichita State started things with a run in the first, but it struggled on defense, kicking the ball around for four errors and four MSU runs. Ben Carlson reached on a misplayed grounder by Tyler Hill and Anthony Capra’s throw was wide on a sacrifice bunt by Chris Playter. Troubles continued as Dusty Coleman booted a ball at short, allowing Carlson to score. Capra finally got an out, sitting down Ryan Mantle with strikes, before Josh Workman had a miscue at second on a sacrifice bunt, allowing the second unearned run. Nolan Keane took advantage of the extra at bats and singled down the left field line to drive in two and take the lead, 4-1.
The Shockers came back to tie the Bears with one swing off the bat of Gillaspie. With Andy Dirks aboard via a fielder’s choice and Ryan Jones on with a single, Gillaspie took his first pitch yard, and knotted it 4-4.
The teams matched each other with a run in the fifth and MSU added one in the top of the sixth with singles from Mantle and Keane.
WSU finally put some distance in the score with five runs in the bottom of the seventh. McKeever sparked the bats with his first hit of the day, a single deep in the hole between first and second. Coleman walked on four-straight balls and Workman followed with an RBI single lined up the middle. Tyler Weber hit a high fly ball to deep center field, enough for a sacrifice and a run. Big back-to-back hits by Hall and Dirks plated the last three runs of the inning.
The game was not yet over, as the Bears rallied with four runs in the top of the eighth, tying the contest once again. Matt Welch worked Tyler Fleming for a full-count walk and consecutive singles by Ben Woodbury and Keane followed. Brayden Drake greeted Khol Nanney with a ground-rule double, sending two runners home.