Two days of baseball, with a game under the lights on Friday night followed by a split double-header on Saturday, left the Illinois State baseball team 2-1 on the weekend. The Redbirds (6-3, 0-0) MVC defeated North Dakota (0-4, 0-0 WAC) twice before falling to Central Arkansas (6-4, 0-0 Southland) at Bear Stadium in Conway, Ark. The series was meant to include four games, two each against North Dakota and Central, but Sunday’s conclusion against Central was canceled as severe winter weather pours into Arkansas.
“This will give us an earlier chance to get back to work, no question about it. We need to get back to work this week on defense, on some offensive situations, which we will,” head coach Mark Kingston said. “This team works hard. This team goes about its business in a good way, so I hope they use [Saturday’s] loss in Game 2 as a chance to get a little bit of that edge back.”
Illinois State 5, North Dakota 1
Pre-season All-American Dan Savas worked a season best eight innings, allowing just one unearned run on five hits. He tallied a season best eight Ks, and secured his third-straight win, now holding a record of 3-0 with a 0.32 ERA. North Dakota’s Alex Twenge was handed the loss for his team, allowing for runs, including two earned runs, in 6.2 innings of work. Twenge had five strikeouts and three walks.
Daniel Dwyer set the stage for the Redbirds offense, going 2-for-4 with one walk. Dwyer’s two-run double in the third inning preceded his two-run single in the seventh inning to give the sophomore four RBI on the day. Paul DeJong added two hits, and Cody Voelker reached twice as well for the Redbirds.
“It took [Savas] a while to settle in — it was a cold night … I think he had a hard time kind of getting a feel for the baseball. But once he did settle in he was outstanding,” Kingston said. “[He had] great command of a number of different pitches … The key to Dan Savas is that he’s got the heart for when he doesn’t have his stuff early in the game, and bases are loaded, he still finds a way to get out of it. That’s a testament to the competitor he is and why we’re happy to have him.”
Game Two: Illinois State 4, North Dakota 0
Dylan Craig threw six scoreless innings, firing a career-best nine Ks and allowing only two hits. He managed two 1-2-3 innings and once retired nine consecutive UND batters. Brock Stewart then worked a pair of scoreless innings before David Suarez finished the scoreless ninth, to seal the 4-0 victory for the ’Birds. North Dakota’s Jeff Campbell took the loss for his team, allowing four runs, two earned, in four innings of work.
Sean Beesley matched his career-high three hits, including a blast in the third inning which brought home Dennis Colon and capped the final score of 4-0 for the ’Birds.
Game Three: Central Arkansas 7, Illinois State 0
After shutting out North Dakota in the afternoon matchup, Central Arkansas blanked the Redbirds in the second game of the split double-header on Saturday. UND’s Chris Caudle carried a no-hitter through to the seventh inning before DeJong broke it with his infield single. Jack Czeszewski followed with an infield single, but the two were left stranded on base and the ’Birds were shutout for the first time since Feb. 18, 2012.
JD Learnard was ticketed with the loss for ISU, allowing six runs, five earned, in 3.1 innings of work. On the relief, Ben Hecht recorded a career-best five strikeouts in two flawless innings. Jeremy Rhoades struck out the side in the eigth. The Illinois State baseball team will travel back to the Land of Lincoln and take on SIUE for an afternoon game in Edwardsville.