CHARLESTON, Ill. - At this point in the season calling them "freshmen" can be misleading. Freshmen Robby Ort and Jeremy Lucas have played large roles in the success of the Indiana State University baseball team this season and it showed on Friday night as the freshman duo helped lead ISU past Eastern Illinois University by a score of 9-2 at Coaches Stadium in front of 144 fans.
Once the Sycamores (32-15) got into the Panther bullpen on Friday the ISU offense picked up, scoring seven times off of five relievers over the four innings of the game.
ISU's freshmen pair led the way, with Lucas finishing the day 4-5 at the plate while tying a season-high with three RBIs. Ort reached base in all five of his trips to the plate, en route to going 2-4 with three runs scored, an RBI and two stolen bases.
Indiana State struck first on Friday when Ort, senior Luke Fieser and Lucas tallied three straight singles with two outs in the first inning. Lucas' single through the right side of the infield brought Ort home from third base to give ISU a 1-0 lead.
Eastern Illinois (15-32) answered in the bottom of the inning with a single run of their own, tying the game on an RBI single from third baseman Zach Borenstein.
The Panthers took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning when shortstop Cam Strang drew a bases loaded walk.
ISU began their late-inning rally in the sixth, with Ort and Lucas combining to tie the game at 2-2. Ort led off the inning with a single to Strang at short before stealing second base. Two batters later, Lucas would tie the score with a single through the middle of the infield.
The Sycamore offense put up five runs in the top of the seventh inning, as ISU brought a total of 10 batters to the plate. Sophomore Kyle Burnam, Fieser and Lucas all tallied RBI singles during the inning before junior Levi Ferguson recorded a two-RBI single to push the ISU lead to 7-2.
Indiana State added a single run in both the eighth and ninth innings, with Ort bringing senior Ryan Strausborger home in the eighth and Ferguson leading off the ninth with a solo home run to left field.
On the day, the Sycamores totaled 16 hits in support of junior starting pitcher Jacob Petricka (8-4). Petricka, who was on a limited pitch count due to next week's game on Thursday with Bradley, struck out eight batters over five innings while allowing just four hits and two runs. Sophomores Brandon Dorsett and Brandon Flora and senior Scott Harlan combined to pitch the final four innings against EIU, allowing no runs and just one hit.
The Sycamores return to EIU's campus on Saturday, when they will face the Cougars of SIU Edwardsville. SIUE and EIU will play a game at 1:00 p.m. ET before ISU takes the field, with first pitch between ISU and SIUE scheduled for approximately 4:30 p.m. ET. The matchup between the Sycamores and Cougars can be heard live on GoSycamores.com.
Postgame comments from head coach Rick Heller:
Postgame comments from freshman Jeremy Lucas: