Redbird Baseball Opens 2008 Season at Tennessee Tech
Feb. 21, 2008
NORMAL, Ill. - After months of practice and preparation in anticipation of the 2008 season, the Illinois State baseball team will travel to Cookeville, Tenn., for a season-opening series at Tennessee Tech. The Redbirds will play three games in three days, with ISU and the Golden Eagles squaring off in the opening game Friday at 3 p.m. The teams will return for a 2 p.m. matchup Saturday, and will finish the set at 1 p.m. Sunday.
After the Redbirds finished 2007 with a 20-32 record overall and an 8-16 slate in the Missouri Valley Conference, ISU will begin its 107th season of college baseball when it takes the field at Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex. The three-game set will be the first action that the team has seen outdoors since the Redbird Baseball Media World Series during the fall semester.
"I'm forward to getting out of the cold weather, so we can get some time out of Horton Field House," said Illinois State head coach Jim Brownlee. "I'm also looking for our guys to just go out and play. With so many new guys on the roster this year, I want to see who can handle certain situations. The first 20 games, for me and the coaching staff, will be important because it will be a time for us to learn where we are at as a team. We've got a lot of pitchers who need work in order for us to see where we are at. I think our pitching and hitting are very similar - the guys just need to go out and play."
After spending the past season primarily out of the bullpen, junior Dan Sorce will get the ball for the season-opener on Friday. In 22 appearances in 2007, Sorce finished with a 1-5 record and a 6.75 earned-run average (ERA) but came on strong during the stretch of the season. The left-hander will likely face Jake Edwards in the opener, who was 5-5 with a 5.91 ERA in 2007.
"Dan has been one our better pitchers," said Brownlee. "You can look at his record from last year out of the bullpen, and while he was 1-5, his struggles were early in the year. He then got it going, and was great the rest of the season. As a freshman, he pitched extremely well for us. Our coaching staff has always tinkered with the idea of Dan being a starter, and with Eric (Theisen) and Tyler (Cox) coming off arm injuries, it was a perfect time to go through with it. I am anxious to see how he does and how his endurance is; he's been probably our best pitcher with his four pitches that he throws for strikes. He's good as anyone at stopping the running game, and he's a complete player."
Junior Quinn Ewert will make his first start in Redbird uniform on Saturday, after transferring to Illinois State from Michigan State. Ewert did not see much time on the mound during his time at MSU, finishing 2007 with an 11.12 ERA in only five appearances (one start). The right-hander will face junior Michael Alcorn, who did not pitch in 2007and received a medical redshirt due to a back injury. In his last full season (2005), Alcon led the Golden Eagles with a 3.99 ERA, to go along with a 3-1 record.
Sophomore Ryan Copeland, who led the team with four victories last season, will get the ball in the series finale on Sunday. Copeland will look to continue his success from 2007, when he struck out 32 batters and walked only 10 hitters during 69.1 innings of work. Tennessee Tech will send sophomore Jared Dobbs to the mound Sunday. At 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, Dobbs was named to the All-Ohio Valley Conference Newcomer team last season after posting a 5-3 record and a team-best 4.18 ERA in 64.2 innings of work.
Fans can follow the Redbirds this weekend with live statistics, available on GoRedbirds.com.