EVANSVILLE, Ind. - What a difference a day makes. On Friday night the Indiana State University baseball team left 10 runners on base in a 3-2 loss, but on Saturday the Sycamores stranded just two runners in a 5-4 victory to even the weekend series with the University of Evansville.
The Sycamores (30-14, 9-7 MVC) jumped out to an early 5-0 lead on Saturday, scoring four times in the third inning and once more in the fourth.
Senior Grant Grgurich began the four-run inning with a bunt single down the third base line with one-out before getting pushed to second base when fellow senior Ben Ferrell drew a walk. ISU took advantage of a fielding miscue by the Purple Aces after that, when second baseman Trentt Copeland fumbled a potential double play ground ball from senior Ryan Strausborger, allowing Ferrell to reach second and giving ISU a bases loaded situation with one out. Sophomore Kyle Burnam and senior Luke Fieser delivered RBIs later in the inning, with Burnam lacing a two-RBI double down the right field line and Fieser singling through the right side of the infield to bring home two more runs.
The Sycamores tacked on another run in the following inning when Grgurich brought home senior Tyler Graham with a single through the left side of the infield.
Evansville (25-21, 6-8 MVC) began their comeback in the bottom of the fourth, scoring one run on a ground out by first baseman John Day.
The Aces cut the lead to just one run after the seventh inning, scoring twice in the sixth inning and once more in the seventh. Right fielder Nate Smith homered for the second straight day with a shot to lead off the sixth inning before left fielder Alex Acheson picked up an RBI base hit later in the frame. MVC home run leader and UE third baseman Cody Fick hit his 14th long ball of the season to lead off the seventh inning, cutting the ISU lead to 5-4.
The bullpen combination of senior Scott Harlan, sophomore Brandon Flora and freshman Tyler Browning held that slim lead for the remainder of the game, recording the final nine outs of the game to secure the win for ISU starter Joe Rodriguez.
Rodriguez (6-1) tossed six innings on the mound, scattering 10 hits and allowing four runs (three earned) while striking out five batters. Browning picked up his ninth save of the season by working a scoreless ninth. For the game, the Purple Aces left 12 runners on base, including a pair in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Burnam and Fieser led ISU at the plate on Saturday, each picking up a pair of hits and a pair of RBIs. Grgurich also tallied two hits during the game while driving in one run.
The Sycamores and Purple Aces will battle for the series victory on Sunday, with first pitch set for 2:00 p.m. ISU will send junior Jason Van Skike (3-2, 4.34 ERA) to the mound against UE's south paw Josh Biggs (0-0, 4.63 ERA).
Head coach Rick Heller Postgame Comments:
Joe Rodriguez Postgame Comments: