CARBONDALE, Ill. – The Indiana State Sycamores scored in the top of the ninth to post a Missouri Valley Conference victory for the second straight game Sunday as they defeated the Southern Illinois Salukis 5-4 and earn their second series victory of the conference campaign.
“I don’t know if we played great baseball this weekend,” Mitch Hannahs, Indiana State baseball coach said. “I think we battled just enough on the mound and just enough in the batter’s box. We played very solid defense which was probably the key to the weekend. We still have a lot of things to work on and we have to get a lot better.”
Indiana State won their second straight game and improved to 23-10 overall and 7-5 in the Valley. The Sycamores will step out of conference action for the next 11 days beginning Tuesday when they visit Eastern Illinois for a non-conference game against the EIU Panthers. Southern Illinois fell to 18-17 and 3-6 in the Valley with the setback.
Kurt Kudrecki started on the mound for Indiana State and went 6.2 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits while striking out one and walking three. Trent Lunsford took over in the seventh and recorded his first career victory (1-2) in shutting down the Salukis on no hits, no strikeouts and two walks.
Indiana State scored first for the third time in the series with a run in the top of the first. Cody Zimmerman belted a one-out double to left center a pitch after SIU third baseman Will Farmer dropped a pop foul that would have sent Zimmerman back to the dugout. The Sycamore third baseman advanced to third as Jacob Hayes grounded out to second and scored on a single to left from Manuel Estevez.
Two more Sycamore runs came across in the second. Michael Eberle led off the inning with a single to left and went to second on a sacrifice bunt from Derek Hannahs. Indiana State came up with some two-out magic after Owen Conway grounded out to short as Landon Curry and Zimmerman hit back-to-back doubles to push the Indiana State lead to 3-0.
That lead did not last long as Southern Illinois took advantage of a Sycamore error a hit batter to start the third, scoring three runs on two hits to tie the game up in the bottom of the second.
After three scoreless innings, the Sycamores broke back on top with a single run in the top of the sixth. Tyler Wampler singled to lead off the inning and stole second before Eberle singled to push Wampler to third. Hannahs followed with a safety sacrifice squeeze bunt down the first base line that brought Wampler home.
The Salukis matched that effort in the bottom of the seventh, scoring one before Trent Lunsford relieved Kudrecki with two outs. Lunsford was able to retire the side with no further damage.
Indiana State went back in front 5-4 in the top of the ninth. Owen Conway walked to open the inning and was replaced at first by Connor McClain who took second on a wild pitch. McClain was able to score the go ahead run on an RBI single to center by Curry. The Sycamores could not get any more across but were able to pick up the win and the series victory.
Southern Illinois threatened in the bottom of the ninth and had runners at first and second with one out before the Sycamores recorded their second double play of the game to end the contest.
Indiana State scored five runs on eight hits with Zimmerman belting two doubles and Curry a double and a single. Michael Eberle had two singles with Manuel Estevez and Tyler Wampler each hitting a single.