|ISU baseball takes season sweep of the Fighting Illini|
|Written by Tony Andracki, Daily Vidette Sports Editor|
|Tuesday, 20 April 2010 22:41|
Heading into his start against the University of Illinois, freshman pitcher J.D. Learnard was allowing a run an inning in the 21 frames that he had tossed thus far in the Redbirds’ 19-15 season.
Tuesday evening, the Fairmount, Ill., native put that all in the past.
Seven and two-thirds innings of three-hit, one run ball against the Fighting Illini in Champaign, Ill., not only earned Learnard his second collegiate victory, but it cemented the Redbirds’ sweep of in-state rival Illinois in the two-game series.
“We would like to be known as one of the premier baseball programs in the state and in the Midwest,” ISU head coach Mark Kingston said.
“This, I think, shows that we’re moving in that direction. Two games don’t make or break a program no matter who you’re playing, but I think this is a nice indication that we’re definitely moving closer to where we want to be.”
“It’s cool,” Learnard said. “In an in-state rivalry, to come out on top like that, that’s big. Hopefully as a team, we see that and we’re making improvements and we can keep this up.”
The ISU offense staked Learnard to a lead with solo runs in the second and third frames, but the ‘Birds really took flight in the top of the fourth.
Left fielder Ty Wiesemeyer, hitting in the two-hole for the first time this season, hit a solo home run to extend the Illinois State lead to three before catcher Matt Mirabal followed suit with a jack of his own.
“That was great,” Kingston said. “I feel like he really gave us a spark with that home run.”
Mirabal finished with three hits and two runs scored while first baseman Zach Amrein contributed an RBI and a run.
Kenny Long pitched 1.1 perfect innings of relief to pick up his fifth save.