Missouri State closed out the regular season with four wins over Valparaiso, moving its record to 21-22 (11-13 MVC).
With the sweep, MSU moves up to the five-seed for the Missouri Valley Conference tournament and will play Valpo again on May 24 in the opening round.
If the Bears can beat Valpo, they will advance to the double-elimination portion of the conference tournament.
Graduate senior pitcher Logan Wiley got the start on the mound for his final home start of his collegiate career.
He put together a brilliant effort, going seven scoreless innings with only three base runners allowed and seven strikeouts. Wiley was able to complete his outing with only 67 pitches.
“He was incredible,” head coach Keith Guttin said. “You don’t do that any level really. It was remarkable.”
Junior right fielder Dakota Kotowski gave Wiley all of the run support he needed on the day with a two-run home run over the left-field fence in the second inning, his fifth of the season.
The home run gave MSU a 2-0 lead that carried until Valpo pushed across a run in the top of the eighth inning. The score settled at 2-1 and MSU picked up the win in the series opener.
Wiley picked up the win on the mound and moved his record to 5-4 on the season.
Friday’s Game One
Both offenses got off to a hot start in this one. Valpo struck first with a pair of runs in the top of the first and MSU answered with two of its own in the bottom of the first.
The Bears took the lead in the second after a double play plated senior third baseman Grant Wood.
The lead did not last long as Valpo added three runs over the third and fourth inning to take a 5-3 lead through five innings.
Junior second baseman Mason Hull delivered a huge two out, two RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning to even back up the score.
This sent the game into extra innings tied at five. Valpo was able to add a run in the top of the eighth, but Hull delivered again for MSU and delivered a two-run double to walk it off for the Bears.
Junior reliever Trey Ziegenbein picked up the win on the mound, moving his record on the season to 7-1.
Friday’s Game Two
The Bears rode the momentum from the walk-off to jump out to a 3-0 lead through two innings.
Junior starting pitcher Jared Viertel cruised through the first three innings but got roughed up for four runs in the fourth and was not able to pitch any further.
This brought in junior pitcher Forrest Barnes with MSU trailing 4-3. Barnes was able to pitch the final five innings of the game and did not allow Valpo to score.
Barnes’ efforts allowed MSU to stay in the game and a chance to jump back in front.
The Bears jumped in front in a big way in the bottom of the seventh inning with six runs. The inning gave MSU a 9-4 advantage that would hold through the rest of the game.
Sophomore pitcher Hayden Minton got the start on the mound and retired the first seven batters he faced in the game.
The hot start continued, and Minton was able to work seven innings while only allowing one run. Minton left the game after the seventh in a 1-1 tie.
After Ziegenbein pitched a scoreless top half of the eighth inning, the Bears got their biggest hit of the game with graduate senior center fielder Jack Duffy delivering the go-ahead RBI single into left field to give MSU the lead with two outs.
“Pretty cool for him,” Guttin said. “He’s been a really good player for us for five years. It was just neat for him I think.”
The go-ahead RBI allowed junior closing pitcher Hayden Juenger to pick up his sixth save of the season by shutting the door in the ninth.
Ziegenbein picked up the win on the mound and moved his record to 8-1 on the season.
Look Ahead to MVC Tournament
With the win and Illinois State loss, MSU jumps to fifth in the final MVC standings and will take on Valpo at 7 p.m. on May 24 in Carbondale, Illinois. Logan Wiley will get the start on the mound in the must-win game.
Wiley’s dominant effort against Valpo over the weekend will not change anything to how he approaches his next start
“I never try to get too comfortable,” Wiley said. “I want to carry that confidence I had and keep the pitch ability and keeping guys off balance.
If MSU can pick up the win, it would advance to the second round where double elimination starts.
“We didn’t meet expectations this year,” Guttin said. “We know it, we are not happy about it. The goal is to go in and play as well as we can. I think we can defend, I think we can pitch, we need to clutch hit and that’s the recipe for success.”