Year in and year out Indiana State's baseball team has been known in the Missouri Valley Conference for its strong pitching staff. That has proven true this season as they earned a No. 25 ranking.
That strong pitching continued in their series against Illinois State:
Game 1 | Indiana State 4, Illinois State 2
With the bases loaded in the top of the sixth up 2-0, Illinois State head coach Steve Holm had a decision to make about starting pitcher Colton Johnson.
Holm chose to keep Johnson in and the Sycamores were able to capitalize on an error earlier in the inning. Being able to extend the inning allowed the Sycamores to bring in three runs to go up 3-2.
Despite Johnson facing a bases-loaded situation, Holm did not consider taking his ace out.
"I think he has earned the opportunity to get out of his own jam," Holm said.
"I am willing to lose it with our best guy. There's not a ton of guys that have been throwing the ball lights out. I can sleep at night winning or losing with Johnson."
Sean Ross reached base on a Hayden Jones error on a fieldable one-hopper in the top of the sixth. That was, at the time, the Redbirds' fourth error of the game and would collect their fifth error one inning later.
"We gave them six extra outs that game," Holm said. "The sixth inning we gave them three runs."
Indiana State added another run in the top of the ninth of a solo home run from designated hitter Max Wright.
Sycamore starter Geremy Guerrero gave up a pair of runs in the first thanks to a Jordan Libman two-run home run but locked in after that as the Sycamores won 4-2. Guerrero finished the day going eight and a third innings with five strikeouts, one walk, seven hits and two earned runs earning the win.
"I think the first game you got what you were looking for out of our offense," Holm said. "That guy has not given up but a handful of runs all year. I thought we got the two runs off him then we made him fight. We had our ace on the mound. We had that one inning where we did not make enough plays."
ISU will be back in action for game two of the doubleheader at 4 p.m.
Game 2 | Indiana State 6, Illinois State 1 (7 innings)
The Redbirds once again struggled against the Sycamores starter.
Despite giving up a run in the first inning, Tristan Weaver limited the Redbirds. The one run the Redbirds managed to get around was on a Jordan Libman single. Jack Butler came around to score. The throw beat Butler to the plate but was called and later confirmed via review that catcher Max Wright obstructed the plate.
"I thought we were going to get to him early," Holm said. “We were getting some fastballs and getting good swings early. Then he was landing his breaking ball for strike one and that got us in-between. I don't think our at-bats were good in the second half of that game."
The Redbirds were able to get on base against Weaver but were unable to capitalize. The Sycamores allowed the Redbirds to get on base in six of seven innings. With Weaver allowing the Redbirds on five times.
Sycamore bats were hot again. They notched the Redbirds' staff for six runs including three on starter Jack Butler.
The Redbirds will be back in action at 4 p.m. on Saturday.