With Illinois State baseball's only runs coming on a pair of sacrifice flies, it fell 3-2 to Illinois-Chicago as the Flames completed their sweep of the series Sunday at Duffy Bass Field.
"I think they started a guy with an eight ERA, and then they brought in a guy with a nine and we got five hits," ISU head coach Steve Holm said. "On a Sunday, obviously, you anticipate being able to score more than that."
UIC starter Jeff Zack entered the game with an 8.40 ERA and relief pitcher Ryan Karst started the day with a 9.19 mark. Zack got the win while the Flames' third pitcher, Reece Lawler, earned a save.
ISU starter Derek Salata went seven innings and allowed three runs on four hits. He was charged with the loss in the quality start. Closer Elijah Dale threw two scoreless innings and allowed just one hit with three strikeouts.
"I thought Salata was fantastic. I thought Eli Dale did a really good job of holding it and giving us a chance to win there. But ultimately, we obviously were not able to string those hits together," Holm said.
Ryan Nagelbach put the Flames ahead early with his fourth home run of the series — a two-run shot to right field. The homer was Nagelbach's ninth of the season.
"The objective of being on the mound after something like that is to attack, attack, attack," Salata said. "I kind of did a good job of getting back on the bump and then throwing strikes."
With a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning, Luke Lawrence brought Daniel Pacella in for ISU's first run and made it a 2-1 game.
UIC came back with a sacrifice fly of its own as Rayth Petersen recorded an RBI in the top of the fifth inning. Salata was able to limit the damage as the Redbirds caught a runner at second to get out of the inning after the run scored.
"All I could do on the mound is focus on my task at hand — and if things work out, they work out," Salata said. "Thank you to my fielders and outfielders and all that stuff for making the double play happen."
To continue the trend of sacrifice flies, Luke Cheng scored JT Sokolove with a fly out to center field. Sokolove got aboard with a triple.
Dale entered in the eighth inning and kept ISU in contention.
Still, the offense stalled, and ISU could not make up its deficit in the bottom of the ninth inning.
"The field played the same way the whole weekend. The wind was blowing in. You had to sneak it in at the scoreboard down the [right field] line. [UIC] did that extremely well this weekend," Holm said.
"Sometimes it's a race to see who hits more ball down that line, and they certainly got that over the weekend," Holm continued.
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