CHICAGO - As they have done quite often this season in mid-week games, the Indiana State University baseball team used seven pitchers in nine innings, en route to topping the host Chicago State University Cougars, 10-1, at Howie Minas Field on the campus of Olive-Harvey College.
The pitching combination of JT Stenftenagel, Brett Merkley, Blake Drake, Brandon Dorsett, Scott Harlan, Brandon Flora and Tyler Browning limited the Cougars (1-24) to just three hits on Wednesday, as the Sycamores continually pitched ahead in the count.
The Sycamores (21-9) got on the board first on Wednesday, plating a single run in the second inning. Freshman Robby Ort led off the inning with a single up the middle, before moving to second on a wild pitch and to third on a ground ball double play. After a walk to senior Ben Caple, fellow senior Grant Grgurich tallied the first RBI of the game, bringing Ort home with a perfectly placed bunt down the third base line.
Indiana State would add to their lead again in the fifth, when senior Ben Ferrell began the inning with a leadoff walk. Ferrell would score all the way from first when senior Ryan Strausborger laced a double down the left field line for the first run of the inning. Sophomore Kyle Burnam would move Strausborger to third, and reach base himself, when his sacrifice bunt to third could not be fielded cleanly by the third baseman. Senior Luke Fieser brought Strausborger home with his team-leading sixth sacrifice fly of the season for a 3-0 ISU lead.
Chicago State scored their lone run of the day in the sixth on an RBI double from shortstop Austin McDowell to cut the ISU lead to 3-1.
The Sycamores would not allow any chance of a Cougar comeback, plating runs in each of the final three innings. In the seventh, Strausborger began the inning with a bunt single down the first base line and moved up to second base with a stolen base. With one-out, Fieser drove Strausborger home with a double to right field. Ort came to plate next and brought Fieser home with a single to center field and alertly continued to second base when the throw came to the plate. After freshman Jake Hartley drew a walk, freshman Jeremy Lucas drove a pitch deep into the left-center field gap that would bounce over the wall, plating Ort and moving Hartley to third. Caple would pick up the final RBI of the inning with a ground out that scored Hartley for a 7-1 ISU advantage.
ISU scored one more in the eighth inning, when Fieser singled through the left side of the infield to score Strausborger from second. Junior Phil Liniger picked up the final RBIs of the game, with a pinch-hit two-run double down the left field line to score Hartley and Lucas.
Ort and Fieser led ISU at the plate on Wednesday, with Fieser going 2-4 with three RBI and Ort recording a 3-5 day with a single RBI. Liniger pinch hit in the ninth inning, picking up a pair of RBIs, while Strausborger, Lucas, Caple and Grgurich all picked up one RBI each at the plate.
With the win, the Sycamores move to 21-9 on the season. ISU returns to Missouri Valley Conference play and Bob Warn Field at Sycamore Stadium on Friday when the Wichita State Shockers travel to Terre Haute. First pitch on Friday is set for 6:30 p.m. and can be heard live on ESPN Radio AM 1130 & 1300.
On a scheduling note, the Sycamores have added one more home game to their schedule for next week. Indiana State will play host to Franklin College on Wednesday, April 21, at Bob Warn Field with first pitch on next Wednesday scheduled for 6:30 p.m.