Redbirds Beat Sycamores in Tourney, 7-3
May 21, 2009
WICHITA, Kan. - Illinois State starter Ryan Camp got all the support he needed, on offense and defense, and Ryan Copeland made it stick with three perfect innings of relief as the sixth-seed Redbirds earned a 7-3 win over No. 2 seed Indiana State in the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament at Eck Stadium Thursday.
Illinois State (25-22) turned two double plays and jumped out to 5-0 lead after four scoreless innings by Camp. Indiana State (33-20) scored three runs against the freshman right-hander in the fifth and sixth, but Ryan Copeland retired all nine batters he faced in the final three innings to earn his first save of the season in just his second relief appearance.
"That was a great win for our program with our backs against the wall," Illinois State head coach Jim Brownlee said. "I'm really proud of our kids. We haven't made an error in the last two days and we really played well. That's the way we've got to play. It's nice when a No. 6 seed can beat a No. 2 seed - that's what this tournament is all about and I've enjoyed it."
Offensively, the Redbirds gave Camp a boost early. Illinois State's first three batters reached and Collin Salzenstein scored on a single by Mike Stalowy. Indiana State starter Joe Rodriguez struck out Evan Kohli and got Ryan Court to ground out, but Anthony Ruffolo made it a 3-0 game with a two-out, two-RBI double. Gabe DeMarco led off the second with a solo home run, his second of the tournament to extend the Redbirds' advantage, and a leadoff triple by Cole Marty in the fourth led to a sacrifice fly by Salzenstein and the 5-0 tally.
Defensively, Illinois State turned a double play with a runner in scoring position in the second inning and worked around a leadoff hit in the fourth with another twin-killing. Camp limited the Sycamores - the MVC's hottest hitting team in the regular season - to three hits in the first four innings.
Camp ran into trouble in the fifth and a two-out single by Ryan Strausborger led to Indiana State's first run. A pair of walks loaded the bases and brought up Nick Ciolli, who had two singles against Camp. Ciolli hit a sharp grounder towards the right side but Stalowy, the Redbirds' second baseman, snagged it, spun around and threw to first in time to end the threat.
"(Indiana State) is a great hitting team - they're scary," Brownlee said. "They can put up runs in a hurry. Mike Stalowy made that play on the ball Ciolli hit and that won the game for us. If that ball gets through, they've got some momentum going. It's a great win for us."
Illinois State scored a run in the bottom of the fifth and Camp recovered from a two-run blast by Brian Jett in the top of the sixth to wrap up a solid outing. Camp scattered six hits and three runs over six innings. He struck out three and walked three. Copeland entered the game and was unhittable over the final three innings.
All but one of Illinois State's batters collected hits in the game. Ruffolo went 2-for-3 with two RBI and Matt Mirabal also drove in two runs. Seven different Redbirds scored runs.
The win moves Illinois State to 1-1 in the tournament - 1-0 in Pod 2 play - and sets up a showdown with Wichita State at 7 p.m. Friday at Eck Stadium for a chance to play in Saturday's championship game. The win also guarantees a winning season for the Redbirds, the first since 2001. Saturday's title game against the winner of Pod 1 will be televised on the Fox Sports Networks, starting with a pre-game show at 6:30 p.m.