One constant throughout the weekend was solid pitching for the Sycamores and junior Joe Rodriguez kept that going on Sunday. The left-hander threw seven and two-thirds innings for ISU, giving up just four earned runs while striking out seven and walking none. David Gurbach picked up the last out of the eighth inning with a strikeout and Matt Shelton struck out two in a flawless ninth inning to give the Sycamores their fourth win in three days.
“Starting the season 8-1 is certainly a pleasant surprise for us,” said head coach Lindsay Meggs. “We knew we had a good team, but with so many newcomers we were not quite sure how everyone would mesh at the beginning. I’ve been particularly pleased with our pitching and we’ve been able to get some timely hitting, which has led to this great start.”
ISU picked up three hits in the first two innings, but failed to get that key hit with runners in scoring position and the game went scoreless into the third inning. After NYIT went down in order in the top half of the inning, the Sycamores exploded for eight runs on six hits to take a commanding 8-0 lead in the bottom half.
With the bases loaded and nobody out, Tyler Graham walked to score Ryan Strausborger from third base for the first run of the inning and kept the bases juiced. Following a strikeout by Bronco Lafrenz, Brian Ramirez ripped a RBI single to score Nick Ciolli from third base and the bases stayed loaded. However, they would not stay that way for long, as Pascual Del Real cleared the bases with a triple to pick up three RBI for the Sycamores.
Del Real then scored on a RBI single by Koby Kraemer and Kyle Burnam added a single of his own to give ISU a couple of base runners. After a fly out by Strausborger, Ciolli walked to load the bases again for Brady Shoemaker. It looked as if the inning was over as Shoemaker grounded to shortstop, however the ball was booted and Kraemer and Burnam came around to score to cap off the eight-run barrage.
NYIT picked up two runs in the top of the fifth inning off Rodriguez to make the score 8-2, but the Sycamores would get that run back in the bottom of the seventh inning on a RBI ground out by Shoemaker that scored Strausborger from third base.
The Bears then added two more runs in the top of the eighth inning to cut the lead to 9-4, but ISU would answer once again with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning to make the score 11-4. With one out in the inning, Ramirez walked and then scored on a double by Del Real. Del Real would then advance to third base on a wild pitch and later raced home on another wild pitch to cap off the day and the win for ISU.
“In the first couple innings we just couldn’t get that key hit with runners in scoring position,” said Meggs. “I think that changed in the third and once we started hitting, it got contagious and we strung together some hits to get eight early runs. Once that happened, Joe was able to relax out there and throw strikes for the win.”