Redbirds Take Series Over Bradley in Extra-Innings, 10-9
May 10, 2009
PEORIA, Ill. - Evan Kohli drove in two runs with a two-out double in the top of the 10th to put Illinois State on top and Jim Sajewich shut down Bradley in the bottom half to preserve a 10-9 series-clinching win over Bradley at O'Brien Field Sunday. The win gives the Redbirds an 11-11 mark in Valley play and secures a berth in the State Farm Missouri Valley Tournament for the first time since 2001.
Kohli doubled down the left field line to plate Anthony Ruffolo and Ryan Court in the top of the 10th, part of a three-RBI day for the junior first baseman. Sajewich relieved Kyle Nelson, who had thrown three scoreless before allowing consecutive hits in extra innings, and got Adam Kimble to ground out to second with the bases loaded for his fourth save of the season.
Both teams combined for 20 hits while working to an 8-8 stalemate after six innings. The final three innings proved a stark contrast as both teams went hitless from the seventh through ninth.
Illinois State (21-20, 11-11 MVC) scored its runs in bunches, plating five runs in the second inning off of four hits - three for extra-bases. Court tripled in Ruffolo to start the scoring and an RBI-double by Gabe DeMarco in the next at-bat gave the Redbirds a 2-1 edge. After a pair of walks and a bunt, Collin Salzenstein drove in three runs with a bases-loaded double.
Illinois State added two more runs in the third inning as the first triple of DeMarco's career scored Court and a ground out by Kohli pushed DeMarco across the plate.
The Braves (16-29, 3-15 MVC) scored runs in each of the first six innings, wrapping five single tallies around a three-run second inning. Tommy Fitzgerald went 3-for-4, one of five Bradley hitters with multiple hits. Matt Fritz led Bradley with three runs scored.
Nelson relieved Illinois State starter Ryan Copeland in the seventh inning and struck out three in 3.1 innings of work. Nelson walked just one batter and surrendered the two hits in his last inning of work. He was credited with his third win of the season.
Ruffolo was 3-for-5 in the game, also connecting on a solo home run in the fifth inning, and along with Court, led the Redbirds with three runs scored. Kohli finished with three RBI and DeMarco and Salzenstein both finished with two hits.
The series was the last for the Redbirds in the Missouri Valley Conference with the Redbirds' league bye week falling next weekend. The Redbirds finished .500 or better in conference play for the seventh time since joining the Valley, and for the first time since the 2001 Illinois State team went 17-11 in league play.
The Redbirds have five games remaining on the regular-season schedule, starting with a home game against Notre Dame at Silver Cross Field in Joliet, Ill., Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. The Redbirds travel to Valparaiso Wednesday before closing the regular season with a three-game series at home against SIU-Edwardsville (May 15-17).