WICHITA, Kan. -- Wichita State (28-24) rode two home runs and a career-high six RBI from junior Ryan Jones to erase a three-run deficit and beat Indiana State (33-19) 15-7 in the first round of the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Baseball Tournament at Eck Stadium.
The Shocker bullpen pitched four scoreless innings and the offense came alive in the last three innings to give the Shockers a convincing win in their first pod-play game of the tournament. WSU posted just three hits in the first six innings, but laced together 12 more in the last three to total 15. Remington Johnson got the win for the Shockers after replacing starter Tim Kelley in the sixth. Johnson pitched two scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and striking out three.
Jones led the offense with a 3-for-5 day, including a grand slam and a solo homer. The centerfielder also scored three times to go along with his six runs batted in. Ryan Engrav was 3-for-5, while Tyler Grimes and Bret Bascue each added two hits on the day. Bascue hit a solo shot in the ninth, his second of the season.
Wichita State came roaring out of the gates on the strength of Jones' grand slam. Catcher Cody Lassley hit a one-out single, and then Will Baez and Chris O'Brien each drew walks to set the table for Jones. On an 0-2 count, Jones crushed a line drive to right field to clear the fence and give the Shockers a 4-0 lead in the top of the first against Indiana State starter Eric Valdez.
Valdez settled in after that allowing just two hits in the next five innings, while his offense took advantage of WSU miscues with some timely hitting. The Sycamores put up two runs in both the second and third innings to tie the score at 4-4.
In the second, ISU took advantage of some control problems by WSU's Kelley. Kelley hit a batter then gave up back-to-back hits to Ben Ferrell and Ryan Strausborger. A Tyler Grimes error led to the second Sycamore run of the inning after a walk issued by Kelley to load the bases.
Indiana State added two more runs on a bases loaded single that ricocheted off of Kelley and slipped into the outfield. The Sycamores took the lead and extended it in the fifth and sixth on a fielder's choice RBI from Ferrell and an RBI double by Brady Shoemaker to chase Kelley with a 7-4 lead.
Wichita State battled back against Valdez and the Sycamores in the top of the seventh. Jones came to the plate to lead off the inning and smashed an opposite field home run, tying his career-high for RBI with five. The next batter, Bret Bascue, hit a dribbler down the third base line for an infield single. An errant throw on the play allowed Bascue to move to second, and Ryan Engrav knocked him in to cut the lead to one, 7-6, with nobody out. ISU reliever Michael Manus struck out pinch hitter Taylor Brown and then got Cody Lassley to line into a double play to kill the Shocker rally.
The Shockers poured it on in the eighth inning, scoring eight runs to take a 14-7 lead. The first seven batters for WSU reached base including two walks, two hit batters and three RBI singles. O'Brien, Jones, and Engrav each knocked in runs, with Engrav's single bringing in two before an out was recorded. Later in the inning, Andrew Letourneau and Clint McKeever got in the act with RBI singles. Letourneau knocked in two with a grounder up the middle, and McKeever brought home one with a liner into center.
Brian Flynn entered for Johnson in the eighth and cruised through the Sycamore hitters to finish the game. Flynn pitched two innings, allowing just two hits, while striking out one.
The Shockers will be back in action tomorrow night at 7 p.m. against fourth seeded Creighton, who won 5-1 over Southern Illinois earlier today.