Illinois State Opens Series with 7-6 win over Creighton
April 9, 2010
OMAHA, Neb. - Kevin Tokarski's solo shot to left in the sixth inning put Illinois State ahead and five innings of scoreless relief from Ryan Copeland and Kenny Long made the lead stick as the Redbirds snapped a nine-game losing streak to Creighton with a 7-6, series-opening win at CU Sports Complex Friday.
Tokarski broke open a 6-6 tie with a leadoff home run to left field off Creighton (14-10, 3-4 MVC) reliever Mark Winkleman, and Copeland limited the Bluejays to two hits in four scoreless before Long closed the door in the ninth for his fourth save of the season. Creighton had scored in each of the first four innings off Illinois State (13-14, 3-1 MVC) starter Corey Maines, but couldn't put anything together against Copeland. The win was Illinois State's first over Creighton since 2006, and the first series opening win against the Jays since 2001.
"They've had our number," Copeland said. "This is my first win over Creighton since I've been here. It's great. It gives us confidence. That's a good team. They play well and play the right way, and they play hard. It shows that we can play with anybody - Creighton has been up at the top of the conference for a long time now."
Maines labored through the first four innings, allowing the leadoff man to reach and score in each frame as the Bluejays scratched across six runs. Creighton plated two in each of the first two innings and single runs in the third and fourth, while drawing four walks and knocking five hits off the Redbird starter.
Illinois State did the majority of its scoring in the second inning, when a pair of errors by Trever Adams in left field led to five unearned runs. Illinois State scored six total runs in the second while sending 11 batters to the plate. Ryan Court, Brett Kay and Tokarski each had singles and scored runs in the inning.
Copeland entered the game in the fifth inning with the score tied and immediately changed the complexion of the game. He allowed a leadoff hit to TJ Roemmich but got outs in the next seven at-bats and notched four strikeouts in relief. Tokarksi's homer in the sixth inning gave the Redbirds a 7-6 lead and Copeland held it through three innings before making way for Long in the ninth. Long worked around an error with one-out to earn the save.
Tokarski was 2-for-4 in the contest with a pair of runs scored and driven in. Anthony Ruffolo and Ty Wiesemeyer each drew two walks for the Redbirds, who collected seven free passes as a team. Creighton was averaging just 2.9 walks per contest entering Friday's game.
Carson Vitale had two hits and two RBI for Creighton, including his third home run of the season. The Bluejay pitching staff allowed just two earned runs in the game.
Illinois State and Creighton continue the series Saturday at 2 p.m., with Brad Sorkin (ISU) throwing against Brandon Koenighstein (CU). The series will conclude Sunday at 1 p.m.
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