OMAHA, Neb. - The Indiana State baseball team scored two runs in the top of the first inning on Tuesday and never looked back, opening the 2011 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference with a 5-2 victory over the third-seeded Illinois State Redbirds from TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.
The win improved the sixth-seeded Sycamores to 27-26 on the season, while the Redbirds fell to 35-17. ISU advances on the winner's side of the bracket, playing the #2 Wichita State Shockers at 5:00 p.m. (ET) on Wednesday evening in Omaha, following WSU's 2-1 win over #7 Evansville.
Junior Kyle Burnam got things rolling for the Sycamores, leading off the game with a single through the right side of the infield. Burnam advanced to second with a stolen base later in the inning, scoring ISU's first run of the game when sophomore Robby Ort laced a one-out triple into the left-center field gap. Ort came around to score on the play, as senior Josh Colon's relay throw from the outfield went wide of third base, allowing Ort to slide home for a 2-0 Indiana State lead.
The Redbirds got on the board in the bottom of the second inning, using a two-out single by senior Zach Amrein up the middle of the field, cutting the ISU lead in half.
The Sycamores got that run back in the fourth inning, using fundamental baseball to take a 3-1 advantage. Sophomore Jeremy Lucas led off the frame with a walk before advancing to second on a single by junior Jon Hedges through the hole between second and third base. Both runners moved up one base when junior Lucas Hileman came up, as Hileman dropped a sacrifice bunt down the third base line. Senior Adam Richart tallied the run-scoring play, knocking a sacrifice fly to right field to plate Lucas.
Indiana State added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth inning after Illinois State starting pitcher Corey Maines was lifted from the game, loading the bases with a pair of hits and a walk off of Redbird reliever Jacob Wielebnicki. After Illinois State's southpaw Kenny Long entered the game, Hedges was hit by a pitch and Hileman singled over a drawn-in infield to give the Sycamores a 5-1 lead.
Illinois State attempted a rally in the ninth inning, scoring one run off ISU junior reliever Reggie Hochstedler who was in his fourth inning of relief from the bullpen, but senior Blake Drake recorded three straight outs to earn his ninth save of the season.
Junior Colin Rea (8-4) started the game and earned the victory, allowing a pair of hits and one run in five innings with six walks and six strikeouts. Rea consistently worked out of trouble on Tuesday morning, stranding six Illinois State runners on base in innings two through five. Hochstedler kept ISU in front, tossing three innings in relief with four strikeouts, allowing one run on one hit with one walk. Drake came on for ISU in the ninth after Illinois State put the first two runners on base, tallying three straight outs for the save.
Ort led ISU with a pair of hits, driving in one run with his first-inning triple and scoring twice, while Ort, Hedges, Hileman and Richart all drove in a single run.
Indiana State advances in the 2011 State Farm MVC Tournament to face the #2 Wichita State Shockers. Wichita State defeated Evansville, 2-1, in a rain-delayed contest in the afternoon on Tuesday. ISU and WSU have their first pitch time on Wednesday set for 5:00 p.m. (ET).