TERRE HAUTE —
At some point last week, the Indiana State right fielder previously known as Robby Ort decided to shorten his chosen name and identify himself as Rob Ort.
“I retired Robby. Rob is a little more mature. I’m getting older,” Ort said.
While the “-by” suffix disappeared a week ago, it took Ort a little longer to say “bye” to his hitting woes, but he ended his slump at a most opportune time for the Sycamores.
Ort’s three-run home run capped a bounce-back, four-run eighth inning for ISU as it defeated Wichita State 6-3 at Bob Warn Field on Saturday.
The benefits of the victory were many. ISU (36-11, 10-4) caught up with Missouri State and is now tied for the Missouri Valley Conference lead. The Sycamores also won their 12th straight series and won the regular season series with the Shockers for the third time in four seasons.
But between the lines, the biggest plus was that the Sycamores were able to muster a response at the plate after the Shockers rallied to tie the game in a contentious eighth inning.
Considering that ISU had been struggling mightily at the plate, and did so again against Wichita State starter Kris Gardner, the four-run inning was a welcome tonic.
ISU would never have been in a position to win if not for the brilliance of starting pitcher Sean Manaea. The sophomore southpaw struck out nine Shockers in 7 1/3 innings of work. He allowed just four hits, walked three and also used a deadly pick-off move to erase WSU leadoff hitter Erik Harbutz twice (see related story).
“He’s got to be one of the best, if not the best, Saturday guys in the league. He’s tough on everybody,” said ISU coach Rick Heller, who earned his 100th win in his third season at the helm.
ISU led 1-0 for most of the game on the strength of a RBI single by Jon Hedges. Jeff Miera, who was hit by a pitch, came around to score on the Hedges’ base hit to left.
With Manaea holding down the WSU fort, the Sycamores were in good stead. Another run was added in the fifth when Kyle Burnam drag-bunted a single, reached second on a throwing error, and scored on a Koby Kraemer sacrifice fly.
ISU’s defense has been just as outstanding as its pitching of late and Burnam gave spectacular evidence of that in the seventh. WSU’s Micah Green hit a long fly ball to right that was poised to clear the fence, but Burnam had time to position himself on the warning track to perfectly time his leap and rob Green of a home run.
It was the second time in his career Burnam had robbed an opponent of a home run. He also did it at the 2010 MVC Tournament.
“Never would I have thought it would happen again. The one at Wichita was on the run. This one, I just timed it and made the play,” Burnam said.
The 2-0 lead dissipated in a tense top half of the eighth. WSU pinch-hitter Kevin Hall doubled and Taylor Doggett knocked him home with a single to cut ISU’s lead in half. Harbutz then walked and Manaea was removed for Brandon Dorsett.
Dorsett’s first pitch sailed wild and both Doggett and Harbutz moved into scoring position. Dayne Parker’s sacrifice fly to center scored Doggett to tie the game.
Harbutz remained at second, which proved pivotal in the inning-ending play. ISU reliever Tyler Pazik got Casey Gillaspie to ground out to short, but as the inning ended at the first base bag, rancor spilled over near the third base bag.
Harbutz and Kraemer exchanged words and Kraemer was ejected from the game. Both benches briefly cleared and WSU reliever Tobin Mateychick was also ejected.
“Harbutz kind ran at him and yelled at Koby when he made the play. Obviously [Kraemer] lost his temper. He responded poorly,” Heller said.
While the Shockers had momentum, the inning-ending angst fueled the Sycamores.
“They started talking a little bit and we got fired up. We took it and used it to our advantage. We responded big,” Ort said.
Against WSU reliever TJ McGreevy, Tyler Wampler singled, and with two outs, Jordan Pearson beat out an infield single up the middle. Gillaspie let the ball get away on the throw to first and Wampler scored on the error to put ISU in front 3-2.
Jeremy Lucas followed with a single and Ort stepped up. McGreevy grooved a slider to Ort and he pulled it down the right field line for a three-run home run to make it 6-2.
“The offense has been struggling. To put four up on the board is huge from a confidence standpoint. Hopefully, it gets us going a bit,” said Ort, who had been mired in a 2-for-19 slump prior to the homer. “When our offense comes around, everyone better look out.”
ISU needed the insurance as WSU (28-22, 6-8) threatened in the ninth. Johnny Coy led off with a double and Don Lambert had a RBI single to make it 6-3, but Devin Moore worked out of it and retired the Shockers to give ISU the series victory.
The Sycamores go for the sweep at 1 p.m. today.
ISU 6, Wichita State 3
WSU ab r h bi ISU ab r h bi
Harbutz ss 1 0 0 0 Curry cf 4 0 0 0
Parker 2b 3 0 0 1 Miera 2b 1 1 0 0
Gillaspie 1b 4 0 0 0 Pearson 2b 1 1 1 0
Coy dh 4 0 1 0 Lucas c 3 1 2 0
Knight pr 0 1 0 0 Ort rf 4 1 1 3
Green lf 4 0 1 0 Hedges 1b 4 0 2 1
Lambert rf 3 0 1 0 Burnam lf 3 1 1 0
Baker 3b 1 0 1 1 Wthse dh-3b 3 0 0 0
Hege c 4 0 0 0 Kraemer 3b 1 0 0 1
Rea 3b 1 0 0 0 Conway ph 1 0 0 0
Hall ph 2 1 1 0 Wampler ss 3 1 1 0
Doggett cf 2 1 1 1
Totals 29 3 6 3 Totals 28 6 8 5
Wichita State 000 000 021 — 3
Indiana State 100 010 04X — 6
E — Gillaspie (2), Gardner (1). DP — WSU 1. LOB — WSU 5, ISU 2. 2B — Coy (14), Hall (5); Hedges (10). HR — Ort (6); SH — Doggett (3). SF — Parker (5); Kraemer (2). SB — Green (3). CS — Harbutz (3); Miera (4).
IP H R ER BB K
Gardner 7 4 2 1 1 4
McGreevy (L, 2-3) 1 4 4 4 0 1
Manaea 71⁄3 4 2 2 3 9
Dorsett 1⁄3 0 0 0 0 0
Pazik (W, 1-0) 1⁄3 0 0 0 0 0
Moore 1 2 1 1 0 0
WP — Dorsett (2). HBP — by Manaea (Harbutz); by Gardner 2 (Miera 2). BK — Moore. T — 2:10. AA — 519.
Next — ISU (36-11, 10-4) plays host to Wichita State (28-22, 6-8) at 1 p.m. today.
ISU 1, Wichita State 0
Friday night, 10 innings
WSU ab r h bi ISU ab r h bi
Harbutz ss 4 0 0 0 Curry cf 3 1 0 0
Parker 2b 4 0 0 0 Miera 2b 3 0 0 0
Lambert rf 3 0 0 0 McCurdy ph 1 0 0 0
Coy dh 4 0 0 0 Pearson 2b 1 0 0 0
Gillaspie 2b 3 0 1 0 Lucas c 4 0 1 1
Mucha lf 3 0 2 0 Ort rf 3 0 0 0
Green ph 1 0 1 0 Hedges 1b 3 0 0 0
Hege c 4 0 0 0 Burnam lf 2 0 1 0
Baker 3b 4 0 0 0 Waltrh’se dh 3 0 1 0
Doggett cf 3 0 1 0 Kraemer 3b 4 0 1 0
Wampler ss 2 0 1 0
Totals 33 0 5 0 Totals 29 1 5 1
Wichita State 000 000 000 0 — 0
Indiana State 000 000 000 1 — 1
One out in 10th inning when winning run scored
E — Green (3). LOB — WSU 9, ISU 8. 2B — Walterhouse (7). SH — Curry (6), Hedges (1), Walterhouse (2), Wampler (4). SB — Lambert (16).
IP H R ER BB SO
Smith 62⁄3 3 0 0 1 4
Vielock 21⁄3 0 0 0 2 2
Elam (L, 4-4) 1⁄3 2 1 0 1 0
Bacus 7 4 0 0 5 6
Hochstedler (W, 4-1) 3 1 0 0 1 4
HBP — by Smith (Burnam); by Vielock (Wampler).
T — 2:39. A — 432.
Next — Indiana State (35-11, 9-4 MVC) hosts Wichita State (28-21, 6-7 MVC) at 2 p.m. today.
TERRE HAUTE —
At some point last week, the Indiana State right fielder previously known as Robby Ort decided to shorten his chosen name and identify himself as Rob Ort.
- Indiana State University
ISU baseball hoping Manaea can get its MVC Tournament moving in right direction
Indiana State’s baseball team has been waiting all season for its stars to align.
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Indiana State’s baseball victory over Alcorn State on Friday would take on more meaning Saturday if the Sycamores could build momentum and pick up on the good work they did in Friday’s ninth-inning rally.
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Moore’s eight innings of work were as valuable as gold to an ISU team that is short on quality arms due to injury and ineffectiveness. He didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning and one of the two runs he conceded was unearned.
ISU earns badly-needed win
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To catapult oneself about 14 feet into the air with a large $500 fiberglass pole on a daily basis is a risky endeavor.
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Lansing looking for more home games for next fall
Indiana State’s men’s basketball team is looking for a few good games.
Home games that is.
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Baseball is a rhythm game. With contests every day or five times a week in the case of many college programs, you have the chance to build on success or wallow in a slump.
Mother Nature took that rhythm away from Indiana State’s team last week. After a 7-1 loss to Indiana on April 24, ISU was supposed to play a three-game series at Tennessee-Martin, but it was wiped out by rain.
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Indiana State aspired to upset Illinois State to get at least a doubleheader split in Missouri Valley Conference softball Thursday at Price Field as the Sycamores opened an eight-game season-ending homestand.
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It seemed so far-fetched.
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Creighton sweep puts ISU in thick of things
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For the first time in its history, the Missouri Valley Conference will have a home in the Second City.
The Chicago Tribune confirmed Saturday via a Loyola University source that the Ramblers will replace Creighton as the MVC’s 10th team. Loyola — a member of the Horizon League — will join the MVC effective July 1.
Indiana State Director of Athletics Ron Prettyman — who was part of the MVC search committee that scouted potential replacements for Creighton — confirmed Sunday that the Ramblers were in the MVC loop.
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By his own estimation, Indiana State baseball coach Rick Heller has been involved in close to 2,000 baseball games. If anyone has seen it all on the field, he’d be as good a candidate as any.
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A hip injury suffered by Indiana State ace starting pitcher Sean Manaea shuffled the Sycamores’ starting rotation for the second weekend running as it opened a Missouri Valley Conference home series against Creighton on Friday.
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In the immediate aftermath of a practice, game, or in Friday’s case for Indiana State, a scrimmage, most football coaches defer to the film to paint a true picture of what was and wasn’t done. ISU coach Mike Sanford is no different. With the flurry of activity on both sides of the ball, it’s hard to get a true evaluation of anything watching it live.
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The Indiana State softball offense is no juggernaut, but the fog may be clearing on a program that has had a long history of struggles with few signs of consistent winning.
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Quarterback battles come in all shapes and sizes, but one could forgive Indiana State’s Mike Perish, Robert Tonyan Jr. and Trent Lancaster if they feel a bit more beleaguered than your average signal-caller.
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All of it is playing out during ISU’s spring practice, and so far, none of the quarterback candidates have separated themselves from the pack.
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