WICHITA, Kan. — Tyler McNeely drilled a pair of home runs, drove in three runs and scored three times in a 3 for 5 afternoon as Illinois State (25-12, 5-4 MVC) hammered out a 9-4 Missouri Valley Conference win over Wichita State (25-18, 5-4 MVC) at Eck Stadium. The win allowed the Redbirds to salvage one win out of the three game set.
“I thought our hitters were really good, and when we got pitches, we took advantage of them,” ISU head coach Mark Kingston said. “McNeely had an excellent game, which is great to see because he’s such a hard worker. As far as pitching, J.D. Learnard was tremendous and Justin Hauer and Kenny Long were as well. This was a really good ballgame for us.”
Learnard (4-2) scattered six hits over six innings, allowing four runs with just two earned, while striking four. Hauer and Long teamed up to close out the game with three shutout innings of relief. Wichita State starter Josh Smith (4-3) suffered the loss after giving up four runs in just 1 2/3 innings.
Illinois State erupted for five runs in the second inning to take a lead it would never relinquish.
Ryan Court doubled to lead off the inning and McNeely promptly doubled him home for the game’s first run. Mike Hollenbeck then plated McNeely with a single, and scored on a base hit by Kevin Tokarski that extended his hitting streak to a season-best 16 games. Tokarski and Josh Colon both scored after Chad Hinshaw reached on an error.
After Wichita State responded with two runs in the fourth to cut the Redbird lead to 5-2, ISU countered with three runs in the fifth starting with McNeely’s first homer, a solo shot to left field. Colon scored on a walk with the bases loaded and Hinshaw singled to plate Zach Amerien for an 8-2 lead.
The Shockers scored twice in the seventh to make it 8-4 before McNeely closed out the scoring with his second home run, another solo blast, to lead off the ninth.
The Redbirds return home for a seven-game homestand beginning with the Horenberger-Bass Classic against Illinois Wesleyan at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Duffy Bass Field.
ILLINOIS STATE 9, WICHITA STATE 4
At Wichita, Kan. – Eck Stadium
Illinois State 050 030 001—9-10-1
Wichita State 000 200 200—4-9-3
Learnard (W, 4-2), Hauer (7), Long (9) and Mirabal; Smith (L, 4-3), McGreevey (2), Minnis (5), Sossamon (5), Beringer (8), Muncrief (8), Rainey (9), Elam (9) and O’Brien.
ILLINOIS STATE — 2B — Hinshaw, Court, McNelly. HR — McNeely 2. RBI — McNeely 3, Tokarski 2, Hinshaw, Hollenbeck. Pitching — Learnard (6 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO), Hauer (2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO), Long (1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO)
Records — Illinois State 25-12, 5-4 in MVC; Wichita State 25-18, 5-4 in MVC.