|Unanswered runs haunt ISU baseball|
|Written by Tawni Ricketts, Daily Vidette Reporter|
|Tuesday, 17 April 2012 21:56|
Central Illinois cross-town rival Illinois gained its revenge on the Illinois State Redbirds Tuesday night.
After falling to the Redbirds earlier in the season in Normal, Ill., the Fighting Illini secured a 7-5 win over the ’Birds in Champaign, Ill., thus completing the season series between the teams and leaving them each with a 1-1 record.
Despite maintaining the lead through the first five innings, ISU was unable to fend off an Illinois comeback in the sixth inning, as it scored three runs to take the 7-5 lead.
“[It was] not a good enough performance by our team,” ISU head coach Mark Kingston said. “[We] got out to a five-nothing lead, but then I thought the quality of our at-bats started to disappear. We weren’t good enough out of the bullpen. We have to be better than that.”
Brad Sorkin took to the mound first for the Redbirds, but relief pitcher Jeremy Rhoades received the loss. Illinois pitcher Drasen Johnson received the win for the Fighting Illini, while Ronnie Muck received the save.
Illinois’ pitching staff teamed up to hold the Redbirds scoreless through the final seven innings of the game.
Ty Wiesemeyer started the ’Birds out offensively in the first inning with a single to left field, only to have Zac Johnson, who led the ’Birds in a 2-for-3 effort at the plate, drive him in on a two-run homerun which placed ISU in the early lead, 2-0.
In the bottom of the inning, ISU retired the first three consecutive Illinois batters, which included a strikeout by Sorkin.
In the top of the second inning, ISU tacked on three more runs to increase its lead to 5-0. Matt Mirabal contributed to the offense with an RBI double to left-center field which drove in Mike Hollenbeck, while Wiesmeyer walked with the bases loaded to force home Brett Kay. Johnson then hit a sacrifice fly to right field, allowing Brian Huff, who reached on a fielder’s choice, to score the third run of the inning.
The Illini fought back in the bottom of the inning with two runs scored on two hits, cutting their deficit to 5-2.
In the fourth inning, Illinois gained offensive momentum which triggered two pitching changes for the Redbirds in the half-inning. To start the inning, Matt Schmitt relieved Sorkin on the mound, but after loading the bases, Rhoades came in to relieve Sorkin. By the end of the inning, the Fighting Illini had decreased their deficit to 5-4.
Illinois took the 7-5 lead in the sixth inning after scoring three runs on four hits, thus triggering another pitching change for the Redbirds as Justin Hauer came in on relief for Rhoades.
But Illinois’ runs went unanswered for the remainder of the game, thus securing the 7-5 win for the Fighting Illini.
The Redbirds will return to their home field on Friday as they play a three-game series against Missouri Valley Conference rival Bradley. The first pitch of Friday’s game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at Duffy Bass Field.