Shockers Shut Out Bears in MVC Opener, 5-0
March 21, 2014
WICHITA, Kan. - Missouri State's struggling offense showed its first signs of life in more than a week Friday, but Wichita State rode the pitching of A.J. Ladwig to a 5-0 victory in the Missouri Valley Conference opener for both clubs at Eck Stadium. The loss stretched the Bears' scoreless streak to 50 consecutive innings as part of an eight-game skid for MSU.
Chase Simpson went 3-for-3 and accounted for all five WSU runs, driving in three and scoring the other two to lead the Shockers. The junior transfer's two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth inning broke up a scoreless battle between the top two clubs in the Valley's preseason poll, and Ladwig took care of the rest for the home team, scattering seven hits over 7.0 scoreless innings before handing the ball off to his bullpen.
The Bears (8-11, 0-1 MVC) failed to take advantage of a strong start from Cody Schumacher for the second straight week, despite matching the Shockers' hit total with eight for the ballgame, including their first extra-base hit in five outings. Schumacher (4-1), who saw his string of 19.1 consecutive scoreless innings against WSU stopped in the fourth, struck out five in 6.1 innings, allowing the first three WSU runs on six hits in his first setback of the season--the Bears' fifth-consecutive shutout loss.
In what has been an all-too-familiar pattern, the Bears engaged an opponent in a pitcher's duel in the early stages, as Schumacher and Ladwig combined to keep the game scoreless through three innings. The Shockers threatened in the first after Tanner Dearman's bloop to right fell in between three MSU defenders for a lead-off double. But Schumacher answered the challenge, getting Dayne Parker to look at a called third strike before retiring Casey Gillaspie and Garrett Bayliff on back-to-back fly balls to end the inning.
Spencer Johnson's two-out single in the second gave the Bears their first baserunner of the night, and MSU threatened again in the third when Aaron Meyer and Tate Matheny delivered singles to put runners at first and second with one out. But Ladwig fanned Dylan Becker for the second out, then worked around a throwing error that allowed Meyer to move to third, coaxing a fly to left off the bat of Eric Cheray to squash the threat.
Wichita State broke the scoring seal in the fourth after Gillaspie singled with one out, and Bayliff beat out a fielder's choice grounder on the back end of a double-play attempt that would have ended the inning. Simpson then lofted Schumacher's 2-1 offering over the right-field wall, putting the Shockers on the board with a 2-0 lead.
MSU once again put runners on the corners in the fifth following back-to-back one-out hits by Meyer and Matheny. This time Ladwig slammed the door with emphasis, striking out both Becker and Cheray to keep the Bears' scoreless drought going.
The Shockers (13-7, 1-0 MVC) tacked on a run in the seventh when Micah Green came home on Parker's RBI fielder's choice grounder, then extended their lead to five in the eighth thanks to a run-scoring double by Simpson and a two-out error that allowed an unearned run to cross the plate.
Senior left-hander Drew Palmer earned his first save as a Shocker with two innings of one-hit ball in support of Ladwig, who evened his season record at 2-2 with the win.
Meyer went 2-for-3 for MSU, just missing his first three-hit game as a Bear when Gillaspie snared his seventh-inning liner to first. Matheny and Johnson also came through with two-hit performances for MSU, which saw its eight-game win streak in MVC openers come to an end.
Up next, the Bears and Shockers will face off again Saturday at 2 p.m., before concluding the weekend series with a 1 p.m. contest Sunday.