The recent hot streak for the Redbirds would come to a halt Tuesday night in their 8-6 loss to Purdue.
After both teams went scoreless in the first four innings, the scoring burst for the Boilermakers came in the top of the fifth when starting pitcher Kyle Wood drove in two runs off a single. Another run would come across on a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0.
Following another single that would drive in Wood, Redbirds pitcher Will Headean was ejected from the game after an apparent exchange of words with the pitcher.
“Well Will got himself into some trouble with walks, and then obviously getting thrown out of the game is unacceptable,” head coach Mark Kingston said. “Once again, it’s something he’ll learn from and it’s something our entire team needs to learn from.”
Pitcher Matt Lambert replaced Headean and went on to give up three runs in the fifth inning off of a bases clearing double by Purdue.
Ben Hecht came into the game in the seventh inning to pitch and gave up a run on a double.
The Redbirds finally struck in the seventh inning when designated hitter Mike Hollenbeck doubled to drive in Paul DeJong and Daniel Dwyer. Brock Stewart then drove in Hollenbeck on a single to make it 8-3.
Illinois State continued their comeback attempt in the eighth inning when a run was walked in by Purdue, followed by a DeJong two RBI single to make it 8-6. The Redbirds would watch a double play off a caught line drive by the third baseman, followed by a throw to first to end the game.
DeJong struggled early, striking out twice on dropped third strikes, but helped the team’s comeback attempt.
“Well we got pretty down there early, and we lost Will [Headean],” DeJong said. “He’s a good pitcher. We need him in there. It’s tough to get him tossed out, but we showed a lot of fight. That’s a game we should have won. I think we all know that, but showing a bit of fight helps a little bit.”
Headean had his first rough performance in quite some time, giving up four runs in the fifth inning before being tossed.
The Redbirds won seven straight before dropping this game, and the emotions could be felt in the dugout.
“Disappointing loss; it’s a game we should have won,” Kingston said. “That’s how we all feel. But we didn’t, we let it slip away. We just have to respond, we have to learn from it, make adjustments, starting with the head coach, and we will.”
The Redbirds will go on the road this weekend to Western Illinois for a three-game series.