Sophomore righty Dylan Coleman had a bounce-back start for Missouri State on Friday afternoon at Hammons Field against the Wichita State, striking out 13 over 6 1-3 innings in a 6-3 victory to bounce the Shockers from the Missouri Valley Conference baseball tournament.
Coleman had good control of his pitches, giving up just one walk and eight hits for three earned runs.
It was a solid start one week after giving up five runs in five innings, including a first-inning two-out grand slam in the Bears’ first MVC loss, to Illinois State 8-4.
“It was all about the mechanics,” Coleman said of his better outing Friday. “Spotting up that fastball. The biggest thing, for me, is getting ahead early and getting to that off-speed or whatever it is.”
Missouri State’s offense remained steady for the second-straight game after their shutout loss to the Redbirds on Wednesday.
Blake Graham homored to left field in the top of the second and Logan Geha doubled home Alex Jefferson later in the inning for a 2-0 lead.
The Bears padded their lead the next inning on two homers – one by Justin Paulsen and another from Jake Burger (his 22nd of the season) – as well as an RBI single by Graham.
“It’s real good to have them hitting again,” Coleman said. “But it’s not like they went away for very long. They’ve been doing their thing all season.”
The Shockers got to Coleman for their first run in the bottom of the fourth, scoring on a wild pitch.
Hunter Steinmetz got the run back in the sixth with an RBI single only to see the Shockers cut the lead to three with runs in the bottom of the sixth and seventh.
Bears coach Keith Guttin brought in Bryan Young for the final 2 2-3 innings for the save, his eighth.
Guttin was asked about throwing his closer for that long, possibly putting his availability in doubt for the late game against Illinois State.
“Dude, it’s an elimination game,” Guttin said. “You don’t want them to get close and get some momentum. He was fresh and he hadn’t thrown. He’s not just a one-inning guy. He’ll be ready to give us something tonight, knowing him.”
WSU threatened to further slim the lead in the seventh, loading the bases with two outs but Young got a grounder to strand the runners.
Shockers coach Todd Butler said it seemed all game long his team came just shy of stringing together a big offensive inning.
“We looked like we were one hit away,” he said. “Coleman is one of their better pitchers. Coleman is very good, he had a very good breaking ball today and he kept us off-balance. We didn’t have enough discipline to stay in the strike zone and we chased some balls out of the box.”
The loss marks the end of the Shockers’ time in the MVC as they will join another conference before the next baseball season.
“Wichita State has been a legendary program in the Missouri Valley and we’re going to blaze a trail,” Butler said. “A new trail.”
The Shockers have accomplished a great deal in their 68 years in MVC baseball.
They have 17 MVC championships, one vacated. They’re the only Valley team to win a College World Series title (1989). They have accumulated seven CWS appearances, most in the valley, and have 20-regular season MVC titles.
As for MSU, the Bears will face the Redbirds again tonight, after losing to them twice in a row.
Should they win, they’ll have to play Illinois State again on Saturday.
Coleman was disappointed he won’t get a chance for redemption.
“I was kind of hoping to face them (Illinois State) today, but it didn’t work out that way,” he said. “They got another big win yesterday. We have to beat them twice now. We can definitely do it.”