OMAHA, Neb. - Senior Ryan Strausborger wasn't selected to the Preseason All-Missouri Valley Conference team for no reason. The senior outfielder for the Indiana State University baseball team tallied a pair of key hits and a stellar defensive play to give Indiana State a series win over the host Creighton University Bluejays at Rosenblatt Stadium in front of 806 fans.
With the Sycamores (17-7, 3-2 MVC) trailing by two runs in the top of the eighth, Strausborger, with freshman Jeremy Lucas on first base, crushed a pitch from Creighton starting pitcher Brandon Koenigstein into the left field stands to knot the game at 3-3.
"After losing two out of three games at home to Illinois State," said head coach Rick Heller, "we needed to win at least two games out here to make a run at the conference championship.
"I'm really proud of the guys. [Ryan] Strausborger is unbelievable. [Strausborger] made some unreal defensive plays tonight and [Jeremy] Lucas got a big hit get the rally going. [Scott] Harlan and [Tyler] Browning both pitched great games. That was just a great game, a really, really great college baseball game."
Strausborger also put on a show defensively in center field to assist ISU in securing the win on Saturday night. With the game tied in the bottom of the ninth, Creighton was able to place runners on the corners with their cleanup batter T.J. Roemmich at the plate. Against ISU closer Tyler Browning, Roemmich drove a pitch deep into center field in what seemed like a winning hit off the bat, but Strausborger had other ideas. The senior outfielder turned and raced towards the center field wall, beating the ball to the spot just before the warning track to close out the Bluejay rally in the ninth.
"I knew the ball was crushed off the bat," said Strausborger, "so I just turned, ran and found it. This is a huge win for this team. Probably the biggest win this season, and being at Rosenblatt Stadium of all places, this is a real confidence booster for this team."
After making the stellar catch in the ninth, Strausborger got the winning rally started in the tenth inning with a leadoff single through the middle of the infield. Sophomore Kyle Burnam followed with a walk before senior Tyler Graham moved both runners up a base with a sacrifice bunt. Senior Luke Fieser drew an intentional walk to load the bases before freshman Robby Ort drove in his team-leading 23rd and 24th RBIs of the season with a single through the middle of the infield to put ISU in front 5-3.
Browning (1-1) picked up his first collegiate victory on Saturday by tossing the final 1.1 innings. Junior JT Stenftenagel and senior Scott Harlan joined Browning in relief on Saturday, as the trio combined to limit Creighton to just four hits and no runs over the final 5.1 innings of the game.
Just as they did on Friday night, the Sycamores jumped out to an early lead on Saturday, plating a single run in the top of the first inning. With one down in the first, Burnam cracked a double into the gap in left-center field for the first ISU hit. Burnam would cross the plate when Graham came to the plate next and matched Burnam's double with one of his own, hitting his down the right field line to put ISU in front 1-0.
Creighton battled back, however, to tie the game and eventually take the lead with single runs in the bottom of the first, fourth and fifth innings. But the Bluejays could not add to their lead at any other point in the game, as the Sycamores plated two runs in the eighth on Strausborger's home run to tie the game and two runs on Ort's single to win it.
The Sycamores will look for the series sweep on Sunday, when the teams meet at the CU Sports Complex at 2:00 p.m. ET. Junior Jason Van Skike (3-0, 4.11 ERA) will take the mound for the Sycamores with Creighton sending freshman Ty Blach (0-0, 2.33 ERA) in opposition. The game can be heard live on ESPN Radio AM 1130 & 1300 and online at http://www.espnsportsradio.com.