CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Indiana State University baseball team broke out of a hitting slump on Friday afternoon, opening a series on the road at Southern Illinois University with a 14-4 win in seven innings at Abe Martin Field in front of 105 fans.
"I was really pleased with our approach today," said head coach Rick Heller. "We hit a lot of groundballs, instead of flyouts like we have been hitting, and you can see the results. [Southern Illinois] has a hard infield and some balls squeaked through today."
Southern Illinois (17-22, 5-8 MVC) took an early lead on Friday afternoon, tallying three hits and one run in the bottom of the first inning, with the Salukis scoring on an RBI single off the bat of first baseman Chris Serritella.
The lead would not last long, however, as Indiana State (25-11, 6-4 MVC) responded with 13 hits and 12 runs in the top of the second inning to take a 12-1 lead. Senior Luke Fieser was the only Sycamore who did not bat twice in the inning, with all nine ISU hitters picking up at least one hit and one run scored in the inning. Fieser was also the only Sycamore to record an extra-base hit in the inning, when he drove a double off the left-center field wall.
Senior Ryan Strausborger, freshman Robby Ort and junior Levi Ferguson all picked up two hits in the top of the second inning, with Ferguson nearly doubling his season total for RBIs in the second inning alone. Ferguson entered the game with five RBIs this year, but picked up four in the top of the second for ISU on a pair of singles.
The Sycamores and Salukis would both score single runs in the third and fifth inning, pushing the score to 14-3 after five innings. Fieser scored in the third from third base when freshman Jeremy Lucas grounded into a double play, while Strausborger scored in the fifth on a single to center field by sophomore Kyle Burnam.
Strausborger was able to continue both of his consecutive game streaks on Friday against SIU, extending his hitting streak to 21 games with a single in the second inning and his stolen base streak to 13 straight with a steal in the fifth.
Junior Jacob Petricka (6-4) tossed six innings on Friday, striking out nine Saluki batters while allowing four runs (three earned) and scattering nine hits en route to picking up the victory. Sophomore Brandon Flora struck out one batter and forced a game-ending double play in the seventh.
"It was really good to see Jake follow up a great performance against Wichita with another great one today," said head coach Heller. "[Petricka] did it today against the best offensive team we've seen all year. [SIU] has a lot of threats in their lineup, a lot of lefties, but [Petricka] did a great job on the mound."
At the plate, Ort picked up four hits in his first four plate appearances to go along with a pair of RBIs. Ferguson led the team with four RBIs, while Strausborger and Burnam tallied two each.
The Sycamores and Salukis are scheduled to play the second game of their series at 3:00 p.m. tomorrow at Abe Martin Field, with senior left-handed pitcher Joe Rodriguez (4-1, 4.88 ERA) heading to the mound against SIU's Nathan Forer (1-2, 1.23 ERA). Heavy thunderstorms are currently in the forecast for the Carbondale area on Saturday, but a change in game time has not been scheduled at this time.