Redbirds Take Two on Opening Day of Irish Classic
March 12, 2009
SAN ANTONIO - Illinois State used an infield single from Eric Mahler with two outs in the top of the ninth to push past Notre Dame, 3-2, in the Irish Baseball Classic at Wolff Stadium Thursday evening, a stark contrast from the 11-6 slugfest the Redbirds won earlier in the day over Trinity.
Mahler connected on his first hit of the game and broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the ninth by driving in Corey Maines for the go-ahead run against the Irish (7-5). It was one of seven hits for the Redbirds in a game that saw both teams combine for six sacrifice hits while scratching for runs.
Illinois State's Ryan Copeland battled Notre Dame's Cole Johnson to a draw after seven innings. Both pitchers allowed two runs, with Copeland limiting the Irish to four hits. Copeland struck out five and walked three. Jim Sajewich picked up where Copeland left off, keeping the Irish hitless in two innings of scoreless relief. Sajewich (1-1) retired Notre Dame in order in the ninth to close out the win.
Hits were much easier to come by in the opening contest as Illinois State scored four runs in the first inning alone and pounded 12 hits while topping the Tigers. Mike Stalowy reached base in all six of his at bats and finished 2-for-2 with three walks and was hit by a pitch. The senior from Joliet, Ill., also scored three runs.
Evan Kohli went 4-for-5 in the first game with three RBI and three runs scored, to go with a 1-for-2 performance in the game against Notre Dame. Kohli's five hit performance vaulted him to the top of the Illinois State hitting charts with a .357 batting average in nine games.
Illinois State starting pitcher Ryan Camp allowed three runs before recording an out in the first inning, but shrugged off the rough start and pitched well enough to keep the Redbirds in the lead. Kyle Nelson worked three scoreless innings of relief to pick up his first save of the season. Nelson was nearly perfect, retiring the first seven batters he faced and 9-of-10 overall.
Trinity's Jordan Pennington had two solo home runs in the loss.
The Redbirds will continue play at the Irish Baseball Classic with a noon game against Texas-Pan American Friday, one of two games in two days the two teams will play.