NEW ORLEANS – The Indiana State baseball team is off to their best start since 2009 as they won their ninth straight game of the season and on the road as they finished off a three-game sweep of the New Orleans Privateers with an 11-4 victory Sunday at Zephyr Field.
The Sycamores are now 9-1 on the young season which matches the start of the 2009 team. Indian State is scheduled to open their home season Tuesday by entertaining the Eastern Illinois Panthers in a 3 p.m. (ET) start. That game is questionable due to the recent winter weather.
Brad Lombard (3-0) won this third start of the season as he went five innings in allowing three runs on seven hits while striking out and walking two. A.J. McElderry, Nick Kolarik and Trent Lunsford each worked in relief combining to limit the Privateers to a run on three hits while striking out two and walking three.
The Sycamores scored 11 runs on 12 hits with Cody Zimmerman hitting a solo home run and a single, Jacob Hayes a double and a single, Landon Curry and Derek Hannahs two singles each, Michael Eberle a grand slam home run, and Mike Fitzgerald, Jeff Zahn, and Tony Rosselli had a single each.
New Orleans took the early lead in the contest, loading the bases with no outs on two Indiana State errors and a single. The Privateers managed to score just once as Lombard worked his way out of the jam, striking out the final two batters.
Indiana State came back in the top of the second as Fitzgerald, Romero and McClain each walked to load the bases with one out. Zahn hit into a fielder’s choice that got Fitzgerald out at home but Hannahs followed with a walk to score Romero and tie the game at one.
The Privateers scored two unearned runs in the bottom half of the second to regain the advantage on a double, walk, a passed ball, and a single all with no outs. Lombard again was able to work his way out of the inning by retiring the final three batters.
Zimmerman cut the deficit to one as he led off the third inning by hitting a 3-2 pitch down the left field line, off the top of the left field fence and over for a solo home run, the first of his Sycamore career. Hayes and Fitzgerald followed with singles but were left stranded.
Indiana State evened the game at 3-3 in the top of the fourth. Hannahs hit a one out single and advanced when Curry reached on a Privateer error. Zimmerman hit into a fielder’s choice that got Curry at second but allowed Hannahs to go to third. Hayes walked to load the bases with Fitzgerald being hit by a pitch to score Hannahs with the tying run.
Lombard worked out of another bases loaded jam in the bottom of the fifth as New Orleans used two singles and a walk to fill the bases with two outs but were unable to push across a run.
The Sycamores took the lead in the top of the sixth. Hannahs and Curry each singled and Zimmerman walked to load the bases with no outs. Hayes hit into a fielder’s choice that got Hannahs out at the plate and Fitzgerald popped out to first for Indian State’s second out. Curry scored the go ahead run when Rosselli was hit by a pitch.
The big blow came next as Eberle blasted an 0-1 pitch over the left field fence for a grand slam home run and an 8-3 Sycamore lead.
McElderry took over for Lombard in the sixth and lasted two thirds of an inning as the Privateers scored a run on two singles, a walk and a fielder’s choice. Kolarik took over and stopped the New Orleans threat.
Indiana State got that run back in the top of the seventh. Zahn led off with a single, advanced to second on Hannahs sacrifice bunt, and scored on Curry’s RBI single to right field. Another Sycamore run came across in the eighth as Fitzgerald led off with a walk, advanced on a passed ball, went to third on Rosselli’s single to left and scored as Eberle flied out to deep left field.