Redbirds Top Sycamores to Advance to MVC Title Game
May 27, 2010
WICHITA, Kan. - It hurt a little bit and at times wasn't pretty, but Illinois State trudged past Indiana State, 9-4, at Eck Stadium Thursday night to earn a berth in Saturday's State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Championship Game.
The Redbirds (30-22) scored nine runs - six of them unearned - on six hits and saw starter Brad Sorkin chased from the game in the fifth after being hit by a line drive for the second time in the game. All three runs Sorkin allowed to Indiana State (35-19) were unearned. Evan Kohli was 2-for-3 in the game with four RBI as Illinois State reached the 30-win plateau for the first time since 2001 and clinched its second-ever appearance in the Valley Tournament's title contest.
The game proved to be unique from the outset as Indiana State starter Blake Drake hit two batters and walked another to load the bases before being pulled. Sycamore reliever Brandon Flora held the Redbirds to a single run in the first, and pitched two scoreless frames while the Sycamores tagged Sorkin for all three of their runs in the top of the fourth.
Indiana State had two errors in the bottom half of the fourth as Illinois State answered with six unearned runs of their own on two hits to make it a 7-3 contest. Matt Mirabal drove in two with a double in the inning and Kohli added a three-run home run. The Redbirds added two more runs on two hits in the eighth. Six of Illinois State's nine scoring base runners reached on free passes - three by walks, two on errors, one was hit by a pitch.
Sorkin, who was hit in the calf by a line drive early in contest, took a ball to the elbow in the fifth inning and didn't remain in the game. Sorkin scattered six hits over his 4.2 innings and struck out three batters. Jim Sajewich and Kenny Long combined for three scoreless innings of relief and Ryan Copeland closed the game for his fourth save of the season and second of the tournament.
Kohli was the only Redbird with a multiple hit game, but Mirabal scored and drove in two runs. Kevin Tokarski was 0-for-2 but walked twice and also scored a pair of runs. He moved within one stolen base of his own single-season record after swiping two bags in the first inning. Sajewich earned the win in relief.
Indiana State was led offensively by Jeremy Lucas who went 3-for-4 at the plate with a run scored. Robbie Ort added two hits for the Sycamores. Flora, one of five Indiana State pitchers used in the game, was tagged with the loss.
The Redbirds will face the top-seeded Wichita State Shockers in Saturday's game, to be televised live on Fox Sports Midwest and Comcast Chicago. The winner of Saturday's contest will receive the Missouri Valley's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, a feat the Redbirds accomplished by winning the 1994 MVC Championship Game.
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