NORMAL — The hip is still a “little factor,” but it was the shoulder that sidelined Indiana State pitcher Sean Manaea on Thursday at the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.
Listed as the No. 10 prospect for the June first-year player draft by Baseball America, Manaea took the mound for the Sycamores’ opening round game against Creighton at Duffy Bass Field but departed before facing a batter.
“It was a little stiff coming off short rest,” said the 6-foot-5 left-hander. “At first I was angry because I wanted to help my teammates. But I had to move past it.”
Manaea motioned to the Indiana State dugout after three warmup pitches. As he left the mound, several professional scouts packed up their radar guns and departed.
“He thought it was normal soreness after his last start,” Sycamores’ coach Rick Heller said. “His shoulder stiffened (warming up), and he said he didn’t feel right. So we didn’t want to risk it.”
Manaea, who also has been bothered by a hip ailment this season, sports a 5-4 record but a sparkling 1.54 ERA. Heller declined to speculate on Manaea’s availability for the rest of the tournament.
Bradley suspensions: Four key Bradley players have been suspended for the remainder of the season after a recent incident, it was announced shortly before the Braves took on Illinois State in the final first-round game Tuesday.
Suspended for Bradley are starting pitcher David Koll, reliever Stephen Toma and starting middle infielders Tyler Leffler and Nolan Sponsler. Leffler is the Braves’ third leading hitter at .311, while Koll has started 12 games.
Higher seed blues: The MVC Tournament trend of low seed success continued Tuesday as No. 7 Southern Illinois defeated No. 2 Wichita State and No. 6 Indiana State downed No. 3 Creighton in the first two games.
“In this tournament, anything can happen,” Southern coach Ken Henderson said. “It’s not uncommon.”
Indeed. In 2012, top-seeded Indiana State dropped two quick games and was eliminated and the Nos. 6, 7 and 8 seeds all won first-round contests.
Taking the extra base: Missouri State freshman Tate Matheny was narrowly safe going from first to third on a single with none out during the Bears’ ninth-inning rally for a 2-1 win over Evansville. Matheny scored the tying run.
“There was no hesitation with him,” Missouri State coach Keith Guttin said. “That was a huge play.”
One bid league?: At 30-16 entering the MVC Tournament, Creighton was considered the league’s best opportunity for an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament largely because of the Bluejays’ RPI of 46.
Despite a 36-18 record entering play Tuesday, Illinois State is considered a long shot for an at-large bid with an RPI of 70. The tournament champion earns the Valley’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
Power surge: Creighton pitchers had served up only nine home runs all season until Indiana State’s Koby Kraemer and Mike Fitzgerald belted solo home runs to left field in the eighth inning. The blasts were only the 11th and 12th hit by the Sycamores.