Copeland Shuts Down Bradley in 7-5 Win
Ryan Court
Ryan Court

May 15, 2010

Box Score

NORMAL, Ill. - Ryan Copeland threw three scoreless innings of relief to preserve a 7-5 win for Illinois State (26-18, 14-3 MVC) over Bradley (17-29, 5-12 MVC) Saturday at Duffy Bass Field. The win keeps the Redbirds in first place in the Missouri Valley Conference, one half game ahead of Wichita State.

Ryan Court hit his team-leading eighth home run of the season, a three-run blast in the first inning. Kevin Tokarski went 2-for-5 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI.

Jim Sajewich earned the win in relief and broke the Illinois State career appearances record by pitching in the 87th game of his career. Sajewich tied the record earlier this week against Eastern Illinois and surpassed Eric Thiesen with his appearance against Bradley.

With runners on second and third and two outs, Court battled Bradley starter Joe Bircher to a full count. He smashed the seventh pitch of the at-bat over the wall in straight-away center, the deepest part of the park, to give ISU a quick 3-0 lead.

After the Bradley leadoff hitter reached on a fielding error by Tokarski, ISU starter Brad Sorkin retired seven-straight Braves, four on routine groundouts. A single and a walk put two runners on with one out in the top of the third inning. Court then misplayed a ground ball, letting a run score, and Bradley pulled off a successful hit-and-run, with Brian Martin hitting a sharp ground ball through the vacant left side of the infield for another run. Bradley still had runners on the corners and only one out, when Brian Martin hit a ground ball to second base. Tokarski fielded it, leapt over the runner as he tagged him out and made the throw to first base in time to beat Martin and complete the double play.


 

 

Bradley put two runners on with one out again in the top of the fourth inning, but Sorkin worked out of it with a groundout to second and a strikeout.

Illinois State put runners on first and second with one out in the bottom half of the fourth and a wild pitch by Bircher put them both in scoring position. The Redbirds advantage with Brett Kay hitting a a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Evan Kohli, and Tokarski following with a double down the left field line, scoring Chad Hinshaw. Ty Wiesemeyer singled up the middle, driving in Tokarski and giving ISU a 6-2 lead.

A single and two hit batters loaded the bases for Bradley in the top of the sixth inning and knocked Sorkin out of the game. Sajewich relieved Sorkin and retired the three batters he faced in order, but the Braves did score twice with a fly out to center and a groundout to first base, cutting the deficit to 6-4.

Bradley scratched across another run in the sixth inning with a double, a single and a fielder's choice groundout to pull within a run. A 6-4-3 double play ended the inning and kept the Redbirds ahead.

Copeland threw two scoreless innings of relief with three strikeouts in the seventh and eighth, throwing 16 of his 21 pitches for strikes and retiring the Braves in order.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, back-to-back singles and a balk put runners on the corners for ISU with one out. Hinshaw chopped a ground ball that skipped under the glove of the charging Bradley third basemen and added an insurances run for the Redbirds.

Copeland was so effective and economical in his first two innings that he came back out to finish the game in the ninth. After recording a strikeout and a foul popout on the first two batters, he gave up a single to left field, but closed the door quickly with a flyout to right field. Copeland threw 36 pitches over the three innings, including 27 strikes. Illinois State closes out the series and the regular-season home schedule Sunday at 1 p.m.

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