TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Indiana State’s baseball team will play their 15th game on the road Friday night as they open their fourth weekend series and begin Missouri Valley Conference competition at the University of Evansville. The Sycamores (14-3) and Purple Aces (10-6) will battle at 7 p.m. (ET) Friday in the first of a three-game set with the same two teams taking the field at 3 p.m. (ET) Saturday and 2 p.m. (ET) Sunday.
The Sycamores have become road warriors this season as they have played just three games on Bob Warn Field at Sycamore Stadium and that was a three-game series sweep of visiting Western Illinois. Indiana State had home games with Eastern Illinois and SIU Edwardsville postponed by the winter that would not end.
David Stagg (4-0) is projected to start for Indiana State on Friday. The left-handed junior has a 1.85 ERA in 34.0 innings of work. This will be his sixth start of the season. He had a no decision in his last start against UNC-Wilmington as he went 7.0 innings before leaving the game in the eighth with the scored tied at 2-2.
Brad Lombard (3-0) is projected to start for Indiana State on Saturday. The right-handed junior has a 3.23 ERA in 30.2 innings of work. This will be his sixth start of the season. He had a no decision in his last start against UNC-Wilmington as he went 6.1 innings before leaving the game in the seventh with the game tied at 4-4.
Kurt Kudrecki (3-1) is projected to start for Indiana State on Sunday. The right-handed senior has a 2.67 EA in 30.1 innings of work. This will be his sixth start of the season. He was the winning pitcher in the second game of the UNC-Wilmington double-header last Saturday as he limited the Seahawks to one run while scattering seven hits.
The Sycamores come home to play on Bob Warn Field at Sycamore Stadium for two straight weeks before hitting the road again. Indiana State will host the Indiana Hoosiers Tuesday, Illinois State three-game set (Mar. 28-30), Austin Peay for a mid-week game on Apr. 2, and Wichita State for another MVC three-game set (Apr. 4-6).
When Indiana State takes the field against Evansville on Friday, it will be the 151st time the two schools have met since 1911. Indiana State leads the overall series 95-55 with Evansville taking a pair of games from the Sycamores in Terre Haute a year ago 6-4 and 3-1. The third game of the MVC series was cancelled by weather. The Sycamores won two of three games in Evansville in 2012 as they won the Friday matchup 2-0, dropped the Saturday game 3-2, but came back to win the series with a 6-0 win on Sunday.
THREE GAME WINNING STREAK IN VALLEY OPENERS
The Sycamores have won their last three Missouri Valley Conference openers and went on to win the weekend series. Indiana State took two of three games from Bradley in Terre Haute to start the 2011 season including a 5-3 win in the series opener. They also won two-of-three at Evansville in 2012 including the opening game in a shutout 2-0. Last year the Sycamores opened the MVC season by hosting Southern Illinois and swept the series starting with an 8-1 win in the opening game.
The last MVC season opening loss came at home to Illinois State in 2010 when the Redbirds stopped the Sycamores 6-1. Indiana State also lost that weekend series 2-1 as they avoided the sweep by winning the finale 9-3.
ZIMMERMAN EXTENDS HITTING STREAK
Senior third baseman Cody Zimmerman extended his hitting streak to 11 games and posted his 10th multiple hit game of the season at Illinois Tuesday. Zimmerman belted his seventh double of the season in his first at-bat against the Fighting Illini and added a single in the sixth.
HANNAHS HITTING STREAK REACHES NINE
Red shirt junior second baseman Derek Hannahs has now hit safely in nine straight games after hitting a single in the fifth inning against the University of Illinois on Tuesday.
SEVERAL HAVING SUCCESS IN REACHING BASE
Junior infielder Brian Romero now leads the team in consecutive games of reaching base safely after he hit a pinch hit double against Illinois on Tuesday to run his streak to 14. Senior shortstop Tyler Wampler had the team lead at 15 but could not get aboard against the Fighting Illini. Mike Fitzgerald upped his streak to 13 with Cody Zimmerman reaching base safely in the last 11 games and Derek Hannahs in the last night.
SYCAMORE WINNING STREAK STOPPED AT 12
Indiana State did not give up their winning streak easily as it took a walk off single in the bottom of the ninth inning for the streak to come to an end at the hands of home standing UNC-Wilmington (3-2) last Friday. The briefly interrupted streak was begun again on Saturday as the Sycamores won both ends of a double header (11-5 and 6-1) over the Seahawks.
BEST START TO SEASON SINCE 1979
The 14-3 record posted by the Sycamores through the first 17 games of the season is one of the best records at this point in the season in the history of the Indiana State program. The 1979 team ran their record to 15-2 before losing three of their next four contests. The 1990 team lost two of their next five games after reaching 14-2.
FIRST DOUBLE HEADER WIN ON ROAD SINCE 2011
Playing double-headers is becoming a rare event but the Sycamores did just that last Saturday and both ends of the twin bill (11-5 and 6-1). Indiana State has not won a double header on the road since March 5, 2011 when the Sycamores took two from Central Arkansas. Indiana State had two twin bills in the 2013 season, sweeping both ends of a home twin bill from Southern Illinois (March 23) while dropping both ends of the double header at Illinois (April 20).
LOMBARD HONORED BY COLLEGESPORTSMADNESS.COM
Junior right hander Brad Lombard was named the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week by CollegeSportsMadness.com on Feb. 25. Lombard won his second game of the season as the threw seven scoreless innings against Middle Tennessee State Sunday while scattering four hits, striking out three, and walking one. Lombard had been sick the previous couple of days but was able to take the mound and earn the win.
KEAFFABER NAMED PITCHER OF THE WEEK
Indiana State freshman right handed pitcher Ryan Keaffaber was named the Missouri Valley Conference Pitcher of the Week (Feb. 17). Keaffaber made the most of his opportunities as he picked up a pair of saves as Indiana State won three of their four games in the Snowbird Classic played at Port Charlotte, Fla. (Feb. 14-16). The freshman made three appearances during the weekend as he worked a total of four innings and did not allow a base runner in any of his appearances. He was instrumental in the Sycamore victories over Ohio State and Connecticut as Keaffaber worked the final 1.2 innings to earn the save against a threatening Connecticut team and set the Buckeyes down in order in the ninth on Sunday to earn his second save of the weekend.
SYCAMORES PICKED 7TH IN VALLEY PRESEASON POLL
The Missouri Valley Conference coaches have picked the Sycamores to finish seventh in the league race this season according to the MVC Preseason Poll. The chase for the 2014 MVC regular season championship is expected to come down to a showdown between Wichita State and Missouri State. Only one point separated the two Valley schools in the preseason poll with Wichita State tabbed the preseason favorite with 56 points and six first place votes. Missouri State is second with 55 points and two first place votes. Another close battle is expected for third and fourth in the league regular season as defending regular season champion Illinois State received 46 points for third and new conference member Dallas Baptist received 44 points for fourth. They are followed by Southern Illinois fifth with 28 points, Evansville sixth with 25 points, Indiana State seventh with 23 points, and Bradley eighth with 11 points.