The Redbirds may have lost the first two games of the weekend, but got the last laugh Sunday when they managed to score 22 runs on Western Illinois, including 14 in the seventh and final inning, resulting in the game being called.
Friday’s game one of the series would be the other way around for the Redbirds, as they would lose 2-1. Pitcher Dan Savas would go all eight innings for the Redbirds, giving up just two runs, striking out 14 batters, but the Redbirds only score would come on a Sean Beesley single in the second inning.
“Dan (Savas) was very, very good, and when your pitcher pitches that well, you need to win,” head coach Mark Kingston said. “That’s the bottom line. Hats off to them (Western Illinois), they made a lot of great defensive plays. They found a way to scratch two runs against Dan there in the second inning, but I expect more of our offense.”
The offense would get the message in Saturday’s game two but the pitching wasn’t there, as the Redbirds would go down 13-12. Pitcher Dyan Craig would give up 9 runs in 5 innings, though only 5 of them were earned. Catcher Mike Hollenbeck would drive in a game-high 4 runs on career-high 5 hits, including his second home run of the season.
“It just wasn’t our day, Dylan’s (Craig) been tremendous for us all year,” said Kingston. “It just wasn’t his day. Our defense was just not as good as it normally is. We’ve been playing great defense for the last 25 to 30 games, so today, as far as I’m concerned, was a fluke for whatever reason. And so we’ll move on from it.”
Kingston’s messages would seemingly come across for everyone, as the Redbirds would jump out to a 5-0 lead after just the top half of the first inning. They would then go on to score three more runs in the second inning to make it 8-1 after two.
The scoring would stall until the sixth inning when the Leathernecks would manage 3 runs, cutting the deficit down to 4.
ISU would then put the game more than out of reach when they would score 14 runs in the top of the seventh, batting around twice and sending 19 batters total to the plate.
The Redbirds’ (30-15) victory Sunday gave them 30 wins in five consecutive seasons.
The Redbirds will next be in action Friday when they’ll square off for a weekend series at Evansville before closing out the regular season in a home series against Wichita State.