ISU's 5-1 Win Over Valparaiso Earns Brownlee 800th Win
March 20, 2007
NORMAL, Ill. - Tuesday's mid-week baseball game was special for the Illinois State Redbirds, not just because it was their first home game of the season but because its outcome helped their coach reach a milestone. Illinois State (9-9) defeated Valparaiso (2-11) by a score of 5-1 at Redbird Field, which earned head coach Jim Brownlee his 800th career victory.
Brownlee was happy that this year's group of seniors could be a part of the milestone victory.
"I'm really happy for our seniors and they are really the cornerstone of this team, so I'm glad they could share in the 800th win," said Brownlee. "Winning 800 games really just means I've been a coach for a long time. But, I've had the pleasure to work with some great athletic directors and some very talented players in my 28 years as a head coach. I just hope there are a few more victories to come and that No. 900 comes a lot quicker than 800 did."
Mike Hlavacek (1-0) earned the victory for ISU, after allowing just one run on five hits in six innings of work on the hill. The right-hander also struck out five, four of which were in consecutive at bats, while walking none. Valparaiso starter Harvey Yeargin (0-2) suffered the loss in six innings of work, as he allowed four runs on 10 with three strikeouts.
"Our pitching today really stepped up, and that started with Mike Hlavacek," said Brownlee. "He really set the tone, was dominating on the mound and did what we always ask our pitchers to do and that's throw strikes and get ground balls. Dan Sorce and Jim Sajewich followed after that and shut things down, which I think gives our bullpen some confidence heading into the weekend."
Illinois State plated the first two runs of the day in the bottom of the second inning. After back-to-back singles by Jesse Griswold and Kyle O'Brien to start the inning, Kevin Konsler reached on a fielder's choice and then advanced to second base on a throwing error by Valparaiso second baseman as he attempted to turn a double play. That allowed Konsler to advance to second and Griswold to score from second base for 1-0 lead.
Valparaiso tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the sixth inning when Michael Arensdorff scored from third base on a Brian Rzepka RBI single. However, the tie would not last long as ISU would score three runs in the bottom half of the inning to take a 4-1 lead.
With runners on second and third and one out, Griswold got the scoring started as he crossed home plate on a RBI single by Konsler through the left side of the infield. Joe Burke then pinch hit for designated hitter Nick Crist and grounded out, but it allowed O'Brien to score from third for the second run of the inning. Kyle Cherney then followed with a single into center field, which scored pinch runner Mike Tokarski to give the Redbirds the three-run advantage.
The Redbirds tacked on one more run in the bottom of the seventh inning to make the score 5-1 and the Redbird pitching took over and shut down the Crusaders for the final two innings. Griswold finished the day 3-for-4 with two runs scored and O'Brien and Collin Salzenstein also chipped in two hits apiece in the ISU victory.
ISU returns to action on Friday, March 23, against the Southern Illinois Salukis in its first Missouri Valley Conference series of the season. Game time is schedule for 2 p.m. in Carbondale, Ill.