Daniel Torrente sent a walk-off grand slam well over the left field wall Wednesday to give Missouri State a 9-6 win over Illinois State in its first game of the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament at Eck Stadium in Wichita, Kan.
Missouri State’s first walk-off homer since Jason Hart did it in 1998 gave the Bears (33-19) their eighth win in a row, while sixth-seeded Illinois State fell to 24-22.
The Bears fell behind 2-0 after ISU scored on a passed ball in the first and Evan Kohli bounced a solo homer off the top of the wall in the second.
Tyler Ryun’s fielder’s choice in the second and Brayden Drake’s RBI single in the third tied the game at 2-2. The Redbirds regained the lead with a sac fly in the fourth, but Ryun answered with a solo homer and Kevin Medrano doubled home a run for MSU’s first lead in the bottom half.
Illinois State had three straight hitters reach safely after the bases were empty with two outs in the fifth, tying the game with Ryan Court’s RBI single that chased Cody Aycock from the game after 4.2 innings. Adam Maddox (1-1) retired Kohli to end the inning with a 4-4 tie and closed out the game for his first collegiate win.
Ben Carlson crushed his 16th homer of the year off the first pitch in the seventh to get the lead back at 5-4, but ISU’s Gabe Demarco homered with two outs in the eighth as the lead changed hands again with ISU going up 6-5.
The Bears loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth after Carlson was hit by a pitch, Brett Marshall walked and Chris Playter singled to right before Torrente’s game-winner. Marshall entered the game in the second after Dallas Hord was hit by a pitch and had to leave the game. Kyle Nelson’s offering glanced off the brim of Hord’s helmet and hit him under the left eye.
The Bears play fifth-seeded Southern Illinois (23-27) at 11 a.m. Thursday. The Salukis fell to Creighton by a 5-1 score in the tournament’s first game Wednesday.