Redbirds Walk Off with Series Opening Win, 6-5

April 16, 2010

Box Score

NORMAL, Ill. - Anthony Ruffolo drove in Kevin Tokarski with a single to centerfield in the bottom of the ninth inning to help Illinois State walk-off with a 6-5, series-opening win against Southern Illinois at Duffy Bass Field Friday. The win is the Redbirds' fourth-consecutive win in Missouri Valley Conference play.

Zach Amrein

Ruffolo went 2-for-5 at the plate and hit one of Illinois State's season-high-tying four home runs in the game, but it was his base knock over Chris Murphy's head with one out in the bottom of the ninth that provided the difference. It was Illinois State's (16-15, 6-1 MVC) first walk-off hit of the season. Jake Thornton was 2-for-4 in the contest, and hit his first career home run in a four-run first inning for Illinois State. Zach Amrein was also 2-for-4, with both of his hits going for home runs.

Southern Illinois' Tyler Bullock homered down the left field line with two outs and a man on to give the Salukis (16-18, 5-5 MVC) a 2-0 lead after the first inning. It was the first of two home runs in the game for Bullock who finished the contest with four RBI after hitting another two-run shot in the fifth.

Illinois State responded with three long balls of its own in the bottom half of the first, with Thornton and Ruffolo leaving the yard in back-to-back at bats. Amrein added the third home run of the inning off Southern Illinois starter Bryant George. All eight of the game's first runs were scored via home runs.

Each team scored single runs in the sixth inning - ISU's run off a solo shot by Amrein - but the bats were mostly silent until the bottom of the ninth. Southern Illinois reliever Kellen Candau walked Kevin Tokarski to lead off the inning and Matt Mirabal singled through the left side after a failed attempt to sacrifice the runner over. Thornton struck out swinging after another failed attempt to bunt the runners over against new Saluki pitcher Ryan Bradley, but Ruffolo delivered the game-winning hit in the next at bat.

Mirabal and Chad Hinshaw joined the three Redbird home run hitters with two hits each. Tokarski knocked his league-leading 18th double of the season in the first inning, walked three times and scored twice. Mirabal threw out Murphy as he tried to steal in the first inning, the only attempted theft in the game. Kenny Long earned the win for Illinois State after striking out two in 1.1 perfect innings of relief.

Aaron Roberts led Southern Illinois with three hits, followed by Bullock (2) and Blake Pinnon (2). Chris Serritella scored on both of Bullock's home runs, and was 1-for-3 with two walks.

The series resumes Saturday at 2 p.m. with Illinois State's Brad Sorkin (3-1, 2.73) expected to start against Nathan Forer (1-2, 0.89). Saturday is Armed Forces Day at Duffy Bass Field, with all fans showing a valid military ID receiving free admission. Illinois State's Army ROTC program will perform the National Anthem and present the colors. Your online source for Illinois State Athletics, tickets, TRC gifts, multimedia, Redbird merchandise, photos and more.