TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - The Indiana State baseball team scored three runs in their final two trips to the plate and received strong bullpen pitching on Friday night, leading the Sycamores to a 6-3 series-opening victory over the University of Evansville Purple Aces on Bob Warn Field at Sycamore Stadium.
This win improves ISU to 23-20 on the season and 5-8 in the MVC, while also extending their home-field winning streak to six games over the Purple Aces. UE fell to 25-16 overall, 5-7 in league play.
The Sycamores got things going quickly on Friday, jumping out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning of play. After sophomore Koby Kraemer reached base on a bunt single down the third base line and advanced to second on a throwing error, fellow sophomore Jeremy Lucas gave ISU a two-run lead with one swing of the bat, sending a pitch over the left-center field fence for his second home run of the season.
The game remained 2-0 in favor of Indiana State until the fifth inning, as ISU and UE combined for just one baserunner each in innings two through four. In the bottom of the fifth, freshman Tyler Wampler led off the inning with a single up the middle before moving to second on a sacrifice bunt by fellow freshman Owen Conway. Sophomore Jordan Pearson brought Wampler around to score when he came up next, singling through the middle of the infield to give ISU a 3-0 advantage.
The Purple Aces brought more than four batters to the plate in just one inning, as Evansville batted around in the sixth inning for three runs on four hits to tie the game after five and half innings of play. Seniors Cody Fick and Ryan Oesterle provided the big hits in the frame, both bringing home runs with doubles into the right-center field gap. Fick's double brought home one run, while Oesterle's scored two and knotted the game at 3-3. After ISU junior starter Colin Rea was lifted from the game, fellow junior Chris Machado entered in the sixth and forced a popout as the Purple Aces left the bases loaded.
ISU regained the lead for good in the bottom of the seventh inning, using a bases-loaded groundout by Pearson and a sacrifice fly by junior Kyle Burnam to take a 5-3 lead.
The Sycamores added another insurance run in the eighth inning on junior Jon Hedges' double into the left-center field gap to plate Lucas from first.
Machado (4-2) earned the victory on Friday, tossing 2.1 scoreless innings in relief with a pair of strikeouts, one hit and one walk. Senior Blake Drake came on to pitch a perfect ninth inning, tallying his seventh save of the season. Drake's seven saves put him in a tie with Adam Lindsay (2007) and Brad Collins (2005) for the eighth most saves in a single season at ISU.
The three former West Vigo Vikings led ISU at the plate, with Lucas and Wampler both picking up a pair of hits and runs scored, while Lucas and Pearson both drove in two.
Game two of the in-state series is set for 2:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon from Bob Warn Field at Sycamore Stadium. ISU is scheduled to send freshman southpaw Sean Manaea (4-3, 3.98 ERA) against UE's freshman left-hander Cole Isom (5-4, 4.41 ERA). The game can be heard live on ESPN Radio AM 1300.
Postgame comments from head coach Rick Heller: