The Illinois State baseball team opened Missouri Valley Conference play with a 2-1 record after a three-game weekend series against I-74 rival, Bradley. The Redbirds run-ruled Bradley, 13-1, in game one and earned a come-from-behind win, 7-6, in game two, before falling in the series finale on Saturday, 3-1.
The games were played in Terre Haute, Ind., at Bob Warn Field due to unplayable field conditions at Duffy Bass Field in Normal.
Game one: ISU 13, BU 1
Logan Leverett capped off the ‘Birds’ MVC opener with a walk-off three-run homer to run-rule Bradley in seven innings of play Friday.
The magic number was three for Sean Beesley, as he fronted the Redbirds on offense, reaching base three times, tallying three RBI and scoring three runs.
On the mound, Dan Savas allowed one unearned run on four hits with one strikeout to earn the complete game-win.
After just two innings, ISU lead 8-0 and chased BU starter David Koll off the mound midway through the second frame.
Throughout the second inning, ISU received RBI at-bats from Beesley, Paul DeJong, Mike Hollenbeck and Brock Stewart.
Bradley’s lone run came in the fourth inning before ISU ended the game with Leverett’s first collegiate home run over left-center field in the seventh.
Game two: ISU 7, BU 6
The Redbirds rallied to earn four runs over the last three innings to come-from-behind and defeat Bradley, 7-6, in game two Friday.
ISU reliever David Suarez took the win after pitching the final two innings and allowing no runs with three strikeouts. Suarez also knocked in the game-winning RBI on a single to center field in the bottom of the ninth inning. It was the first-career RBI, single and at-bat for the second-year Redbird.
“The way it ended with David Suarez getting the game winning hit, you can never draw it up like that,” ISU head baseball coach Mark Kingston told WJBC radio. “It’s a situation where we always stress to our guys be ready to step up anytime, anywhere. It’s always a next man up mentality. You never expect a pitcher to come up in that situation. We didn’t want to take David off the mound so we sent him up to the plate and he took a good swing and got the game-winning hit. He pitched tremendously and then to also get the game-winning hit, that really energized our dugout.”
Hollenbeck put ISU on the board first with an RBI single, but BU rallied for five runs on three hits to claim a 5-1 lead over ISU off of Redbird starter Dylan Craig. Craig finished with six innings and eight strikeouts.
Ben Hecht and Will Headean also saw time on the mound before Suarez entered the game in the eighth.
In the bottom of the seventh, ISU loaded the bases with two outs before Brian Rodemoyer smacked a single to drive home a Redbird. A throwing error on the play by the BU shortstop allowed another run to bring ISU within one run, 6-5.
ISU tied the game up at 6-6 in the eighth inning before Suarez plated Joe Kelch in the ninth to win the game, 7-6.
Game three: BU 3, ISU 1
Despite Jeremy Rhoades’ career-high effort on the mound of 11 strikeouts, ISU fell to Bradley 3-1 in the series finale Saturday.
BU’s first two runs came quickly in the top of the first inning. Bradley pitcher Cameron Roegner silenced the Redbirds at the plate over 6.2 innings and ISU left runners stranded in the second, fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
In the eighth inning Bradley tacked on another run to lead the Redbirds 3-0 before ISU scored one run in the bottom of the eighth on a Rodemoyer RBI-groundout.
Headean pitched a scoreless ninth inning for ISU, but the Redbirds were unable to plate another run in the bottom of the frame after putting a runner on first base.
The Redbirds will resume action tomorrow with a non-conference game versus Illinois at Duffy Base Field in Normal. First pitch is slated for 6 p.m.