With a save opportunity in the bottom of the ninth inning, Elijah Dale took a ground ball off his foot to assist on the final out as Illinois State baseball knocked off No. 25 Iowa 5-3 Tuesday at Duffy Bass Field.
The pass off his foot was as good as a throw, and Shaydon Kubo stepped on first base to secure the victory for the Redbirds.
"I just looked up — hopefully one of the infielders was gonna get it and get the out at first," Dale said. "I was definitely not trying to purposely do that. I wish I could say I was."
After giving up a lead-off single to start the inning, Dale dialed in and sat down three Hawkeyes in order. The unusual play to end the game stranded a runner at second.
"I've seen some strange things in my day on the mound, and I don't know if I've ever seen a ball game end in that fashion," ISU head coach Steve Holm said.
While the game's final play was not something Dale was prepared for, he was more than ready to perform in the clutch as he looked to get the final three outs for ISU.
"Dale's our guy," Holm said. "He's basically our closer. You know, at that point, you're going to your best arm. He's got our best stuff."
Trailing 3-2, Judah Morris sparked an eighth-inning rally with a base hit before Luke Lawrence came in to pinch run. Dylan Swarmer went to bunt and advance Lawrence but reached with a single when the Hawkeyes left first base uncovered — giving ISU runners on first and second.
Daniel Pacella singled to right field and loaded the bases. Luke Cheng took an RBI walk to even the game 3-3.
Coming in clutch, Connor Olson scored Lawrence on a ground out to first. Auggie Rasmussen added insurance, scoring on a passed ball and giving the Redbirds their 5-3 lead.
The Redbirds were able to hang around and keep the game close, then strike when the opportunity presented itself.
"We knew that we were going to face some good pitchers today. So we just said, 'Hey, whatever we can do to get the barrel on the ball,'" Pacella said.
After taking the lead in the eighth, all the momentum favored ISU.
"The energy's electric. We said, 'You know what, this is our chance to come back and win a ballgame.' Everyone on the bench is fired up. From top to bottom, we got a good squad here," Pacella said.
ISU got on the board when Pacella roped a ball to right field in the bottom of the fourth, scoring Morris with an RBI double. Rasmussen kept it going and got Swarmer home on a ground-out single to the first baseman.
UI scored first when Sam Hojnar went deep to left center for a two-run home run in the second inning, scoring Sam Petersen. In the fourth, Petersen gave UI a 3-0 lead with an RBI double to left field.
Jared Hart got the win for the Redbirds and pitched three scoreless innings while allowing one hit. Sean Sinisko went five innings, struck out nine and walked two while allowing three runs in the start for ISU.
The Hawkeyes used six pitchers — Keaton Anthony got the most work with 2.1 innings in his start. The loss went to Will Christophersen, who allowed the Redbirds' final three runs in his one inning pitched.
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