Redbirds Begin Long Homestand With NIU, Purdue
April 9, 2007
NORMAL, Ill. - The Illinois State baseball team is 29 games into its 2007 campaign and only five of those contests have been played on its home turf at Redbird Field. However, that number will drastically go up as the Redbirds (14-15, 5-4 MVC) begin a nine-game homestand with mid-week contests on Tuesday and Wednesday against Northern Illinois (17-10, 7-2 MAC) and Purdue (12-11, 2-3 Big Ten), respectively.
The long homestand is something that the `Birds and head coach Jim Brownlee has been looking forward to for a while.
"Playing at home is a completely different feeling for us as a team," said Brownlee. "Our players get to sleep in their own beds and their routine is not interrupted, which I think helps them focus a little more. These games should help us really build some momentum for the latter part of the season and I know our fans will be anxious to get a chance to watch us play."
Tuesday's game with the in-state rival Huskies will be the first of the homestand for ISU and will be the second match-up of the season with the Huskies. In the first game of the annual home-and-home series, NIU defeated ISU, 8-6, in DeKalb, Ill., on April 3. On Wednesday, the `Birds will face off against Big Ten Conference opponent Purdue, who last season used a comeback in the ninth inning to defeat the `Birds, 9-8, on April 12 in West Lafayette, Ind.
Brownlee knows that the mid-week contests will be a challenge for his club.
"Whenever you play mid-week contests, they always seem to go down to the wire and I'm sure these games will be no different," said Brownlee. "We have a great in-state rivalry with Northern Illinois and they took care of us last week at their place, so we hope to return the favor. Purdue is always a strong program and coach (Doug) Schreiber has a good team this year. They are both good ball clubs and will certainly be a good test for us."
Junior transfer Tyler Cox (2-0, 4.01 ERA) will make his first start on the mound as a Redbird on Tuesday against the Huskies, after appearing in 12 games as a reliever this season. On Wednesday, freshman Ryan Copeland (2-2, 6.82 ERA) will return to the mound after battling a minor injury and start his first game since March 23, when he started at Southern Illinois.