ISU baseball on a knife edge in Carbondale | Indiana State Sports activities
Given the honors the Indiana state baseball program received Tuesday from the Missouri Valley Conference, one might think that the Sycamores’ participation in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in southern Illinois – the ISU begins its adventure Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. – could be a formality en route to a regional offer from the NCAA.
Geremy Guerrero was named MVC Pitcher of the Year. Left fielder Aaron Beck was named MVC Newcomer of the Year. The shortstop Jordan Schaffer, the catcher Max Wright and the closer Connor Fenlong also received the award for the first All-MVC-Team. The ISU finished second in the league in a good year – the MVC took seventh place among the conferences of Division I.
Nevertheless, the sycamore maples are state-of-the-art in terms of a fourth regional appearance by the NCAA in the last 10 years.
ISU’s margin of error to dispel the NCAA field within two weeks of the Sycamores ending in 3-5. A home streak loss to southern Illinois hurt, even though the Salukis finished third in the league and had an impressive line-up. Perhaps more damaging was a series that was split in Evansville last week.
The ISU’s RPI at press time is 37. In many years that would be good enough to get in, but with the COVID-19 pandemic scrambling schedules – the Big Ten, for example, didn’t play non-conference games at all while the Southeastern Conference played a normal season – the unknowns There are many in terms of overall selection.
The two college baseball publications that make regional NCAA projections – Baseball America and d1baseball.com – had a separate decision on their projected fields of 64. The ISU was banned from projecting Baseball America Tuesday night as the final team was left out. The ISU was one of d1baseball.com’s last teams in. Any angry turbulence elsewhere in Division I or a sycamore slip in Carbondale and the NCAA’s regional offerings are at serious risk.
ISU trainer Mitch Hannahs believes the Sycamores can’t leave anything to chance at SIU’s Itchy Jones Field this week.
“There is never any consolation. In ’19 we felt we had to at least make it to the championship. I think that’s always some kind of deal. In a two-bidding league, you have to make it to the championship. You attract I don’t want to leave it to someone else to decide your fate. Then is it really unsettling, and this year of the unknown? The best scenario is to win this thing, “said Hannahs.
The ISU (27-17) won’t know their opponent until late Tuesday. The MVC played their single-elimination play-in round on Tuesday. The Sycamores are number 2 so they have the best seed team that emerged from Tuesday’s two games. On paper this is Missouri State No. 5, but the bears ended against Valparaiso No. 8 until after the Tribune-Star’s press time.
The eternal question of any conference tournament is how to set up the pitching. Every team plans, but many plans stay in the trash, mostly due to fate on the field but also not when weather delays affect the timing of the games.
For the ISU, their plan seems straightforward. Guerrero was named Pitcher of the Year thanks to his consistency on Friday against other aces in the league. The pitching on Wednesday theoretically makes Guerrero available for a second stint on Saturday.
On the other hand, the ISU won’t face an opponent’s ace on Wednesday. So the temptation to play and save Guerrero is there too. To make matters worse, none of the ISU starters outside of Guerrero have been consistent lately.
“You have to stay in the winning class. We were lucky enough to go into the losing class in 2019 and win it – that’s a rarity. Geremy was great for us because we can go 1-0 into any series. That’s one . ” feeling good, “said Hannahs.” I can’t say how we’ll end up. We’ll see how Tuesday develops. “
“If we throw Geremy on Wednesday we most likely know that regardless of the number of pitches, he has the kind of arm that has a chance to come back on Saturday and give you something. That’s one thing to get him in game one to start. We’ll do it. ” I have to watch matchups and watch the park play. So far? He plays small, “added Hannahs.
“The million dollar question is always how you set up your pitching. There’s no right or wrong, but all I know is that if you don’t play your best guy and end up in the losing class, then you are kicking yourself. That’s it , what we do.” I “dealt with”, Hannahs continued. “On the other hand? You feel like you have to play a little too to give yourself a chance to win the tournament.”
The ISU relied aggressively on its veterinarians. Schaffer was 10 for 18 with a home run and 5 RBI at Evansville this past weekend. Wright was 6 for 17 with 8 RBI. Both had played excellent defense as well.
“I’m usually notorious for pushing our older people extremely hard. I push them hard and I’m proud of how they reacted and what they gave us,” said Hannahs of Schaffer and Wright.
Beck has been excellent since starting the MVC season at the start. He currently has a 10-game series.
“The only thing about all these guys was their consistency in preparation and consistency in performance. In the end, their preparation was always consistent when you have people who have won special awards,” said Hannahs.
ISU may not have the momentum it wanted, but Hannahs has tried to put that into perspective.
“You would have liked to win a couple of series instead of losing one and sharing one, but at this point in the season? None of that really matters. You have to convince the young people to hit the reset button. The toughest thing in the tournament is to relax and play at your skill level, “said Hannahs.
ISU aside, Mitch Hannahs had something to celebrate when his son Kaleb was named MVC Freshman of the Year after the West Vigo grad met 20 RBI .304. Caleb Hannahs enters the MVC with a 16-game series on the base.
Dad is proud.
“It means a lot. When you’re around, you know how difficult it is to get into this league and perform. I’m really happy for him,” said the older Hannahs.
All MVC tournament games are web-streamed through the ESPN + service.