SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The Illinois State baseball team was 2-18 in the Missouri Valley Conference regular season.
Shockingly, the No. 8 seeded Redbirds are 2-0 in the MVC Tournament after a 7-4 victory over No. 5 seed Wichita State in a game completed shortly after midnight on Friday morning at Hammons Field.
ISU (15-38 overall) is the only undefeated team left in the four-team, double-elimination Bracket B. The Redbirds will play the winner of a Wichita State-Missouri State game Friday at 7:30 p.m.
“Wichita State scored 33 runs on us in three games back in April, but for (starter) Matt Walker to go out there and hold those guys to one run through five was unbelievable,” ISU coach Bo Durkac said. "Those guys hit the ball as hard as anybody in the league, and Matt Walker did an outstanding job.”
ISU started fast with singles from its first three batters. Derek Parola's hit drove in Ryan Hutchinson. Owen Miller scored as Collin Braithwaite reached on an error, Parola came home from third as John Rave grounded out and Joe Butler's single sent Braithwaite across the plate.
After a Shockers' run in the second, the Redbirds took it back in the third as Joe Butler tripled with two outs and scored on Nick Zouras' single. That lead moved to 6-1 in the sixth as Joe Aeilts scored on a Parola sacrifice fly.
Wichita State scored one in the eighth and brought the tying run to the plate before Trevor Cross stranded three runners on base.
Braithwaite's solo homer in the ninth handed ISU a 7-2 lead. Trey Vickers' two-run homer brought the Shockers within three before Jeff Lindgren secured the final out.
Walker allowed one run, struck out six and walked two over the first five innings. The freshman has a 2-2 record after his second win in a week. Cross pitched the next three innings.