NORMAL — Wichita State exploded for five sixth-inning runs and made them stand up for a 5-4 Missouri Valley Conference Tournament victory over Indiana State on Friday at Duffy Bass Field.
“We got two really big hits from Garrett Bayliff and Micah Green,” Shockers coach Gene Stephenson said. “And we added an insurance run after that that was really critical.”
No. 2 seed Wichita State (38-26) has won four straight tournament games since an opening loss and will oppose top seed Illinois State (39-18) at 7:07 p.m. Saturday for the championship and an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Indiana State (26-25) had scored twice in the top of the sixth inning to break up a pitching duel between the Sycamores’ Josh Negele and Wichita State’s Albert Minnis.
The Shockers used two-run singles by Bayliff and Green and a run-scoring hit from Mikel Mucha to plate five runs.
Indiana State scored twice in the seventh, including a solo home run from Robby Ort, to pull within a run. Wichita State summoned closer Brandon Peterson from the bullpen, who worked the final 2 2/3 innings for his 10th save.
“Minnis did a whale of a job,” said Stephenson. “He pitched himself out of some real tough jams.”
Mucha turned in an incredible defensive play in the top of the ninth inning. Sprinting into foul territory from his left field position, Mucha snared a Mike Fitzgerald fly ball for the second out while tumbling over the fence.
“Unbelievable catch,” Stephenson said. “Potentially, that’s a game winner.”