Redbirds Sweep Doubleheader Against Army
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March 17, 2012
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - Matt Mirabal went 5-for-8 with two RBI and three runs scored, and Kenny Long earned two saves to lead Illinois State to a doubleheader sweep versus Army Saturday evening at Chain of Lakes Park. ISU beat Army, 7-5, in the first game, and won, 6-5, in the nightcap.
The Redbirds (13-5) finished their spring break road trip with a 6-2 record in Florida. By sweeping the Black Knights (10-6) in the pair of seven-inning games, ISU went 6-0 at the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational, and the Redbirds have now won three-straight.
"These were great wins for us," Illinois State head coach Mark Kingston said. "That's a tough team we played. They're well coached and they play extremely hard. So I'm really happy that we came out with two wins today."
The Redbirds took the early lead in the first inning as Mirabal singled and Zac Johnson drove him home with a base hit. ISU added two more runs in the second frame with a two-RBI single by Mirabal. Army responded with one run in the third and two in the fifth to tie the game, 3-3. However, the Redbirds regained the lead in the bottom of the inning, as Kyle Stanton scored on an error, and Chad Hinshaw doubled-home Eric Aguilera and Johnson.
The Black Knights pulled within 6-5 with two runs in the sixth inning, but Stanton drove home an insurance run with an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth to increase ISU's advantage to two. Long earned the save after pitching the final two innings, allowing no earned runs on two hits and striking out three. Justin Hauer (1-1) was awarded the victory for pitching 0.2 scoreless innings of relief for starter Brad Sorkin.
Illinois State scored all six of its runs in the first two innings, with five of them coming in the opening frame. Bryan Huff scored the game's first run on a wild pitch and Johnson walked with the bases loaded to put ISU ahead 2-0. Then Mike Hollenbeck hit an RBI single and Aguilera drove in two with a base hit. A double by Hollenbeck in the second inning increased ISU's advantage to 6-0.
Army did not score until the fourth inning, and a four-run sixth allowed the Black Knights to pull within one run. However, Long came in once again to work the final 1.2 without allowing an earned run. The left-handed closer not only secured the Redbird victory, but also earned his sixth save of the season. Starting pitcher Dylan Craig (3-0) secured his third win of the year by pitching five innings, allowing four earned runs on five hits and striking out four.
With Illinois State's spring break trip complete, the Redbirds will now prepare to play at SIU Edwardsville Wednesday at 3 p.m. ISU opens the 2012 home season Friday against MacMurray at 3 p.m.