SAINT LOUIS - Senior Luke Fieser put the Sycamores in front with a grand slam in the ninth inning and the Indiana State University baseball followed with three more consecutive home runs to take a 14-9 non-conference win over the Saint Louis University Billikens on Tuesday afternoon.
"Coach told me to pull it down the line before I came to plate," said senior Luke Fieser. "I didn't exactly do that, but I hit it. I've been working on keeping my hands in and [SLU pitcher Marco Mejia] probably threw my favorite pitch."
"A lot of credit has to go to Ben Ferrell for getting the inning started," said head coach Rick Heller. "He really gave us a chance late in the game. You don't see [back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs] very often, but we put some good swings at the plate today."
The Sycamores (8-5) entered the ninth down 9-7, but got the inning moving in a hurry. Senior Ben Ferrell knocked a single to right field before getting cut down at second base on a fielder's choice groundout by senior Ryan Strausborger. Sophomore Kyle Burnam and senior Tyler Graham tallied back-to-back singles to load the bases, allowing Fieser put the Sycamores in front to stay.
That would have been enough for most teams, but ISU continued to add runs in the ninth. Freshman Robby Ort blasted the second home run of the inning to straight-away center field. The next two home runs came from graduates of the same, West Vigo High School, as freshman Jeremy Lucas and sophomore Bryan Chestnut to put ISU in front 14-7. All four of the home runs were the first home runs hit this year by each player.
The Sycamores jumped ahead early on Tuesday, scoring three runs in the top of the first inning. Strausborger led off the game with a double down the left field line and would cross the plate when Burnam doubled to right-center field. With one out, Fieser brought Burnam home with a single up the middle. Fieser would move to third on a double by Ort and would cross the plate on a sacrifice fly from Lucas.
SLU (8-9) countered with two runs in the bottom of the second, but ISU put more runs up in the third. Fieser drew a one-out walk and crossed the plate when Ort blasted another double. Ort came home with two outs, thanks to a single by freshman Steve Ball, to make the score 5-2 ISU.
The Billikens tied the game in the fourth with three runs, thanks to a solo home run by Mike Levine and a two-run shot from Danny Brock, and took a 9-5 lead with four runs in the fifth inning.
ISU pulled with two, with a pair of runs in the top of the eighth. Fieser singled to start the inning and moved to third on a double from Ort. Fieser scored and Ort advanced to third on a throwing error by the catcher, with Ort crossing the plate on a sacrifice fly from Lucas to cut the deficit to 9-7.
The Sycamore bullpen held strong over the final 4.2 innings of the game to give ISU a chance at their eventual comeback. Senior Scott Harlan, sophomore Brandon Dorsett, junior Brett Merkley, senior Kevin Mann and freshman Tyler Browning combined to allow no runs and just three SLU hits over 4.2 innings on the mound. The five pitchers combined for five strikeouts with just one walk.
"This was a huge, character-building win," said Fieser. "We have a lot of younger guys on the team that haven't had the experience of a comeback win. We've been losing a lot of close games, and to win the way that we did, I have a feeling that we're going to get on a role."
"I was really happy with how we started," said head coach Heller. "We've been a slow starting team, so it was good to see us put some runs up early. This was the exact opposite of the Eastern Illinois game, because we weren't real good on the mound early, but fortunately we were able to bounce back at the end to get a jump start for the weekend."
Fieser and Ort led the Sycamores at the plate on Tuesday, with Fieser finishing at 3-4 with five RBI and four runs scored while Ort went 4-5 with a pair of RBI and three runs scored. Each of Ort's four hits went for extra bases, as the freshman knocked three doubles and a home run. Lucas also picked up three RBI on the day, thanks to a pair of sacrifice flies and a solo home run.
The Sycamores begin a nine-game homestand when they return to Terre Haute and Bob Warn Field. Indiana State will begin their longest homestand this season with four games against Western Michigan, with the first game scheduled for 3:00 p.m. ET on Friday.