Redbirds Host In-State Valley Rival Bradley
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April 19, 2012
In-state Missouri Valley Conference rival Bradley visits Illinois State this weekend for a three-game series beginning Friday at 4:30 p.m. The Redbirds (20-13, 2-6 MVC) will try to win their fifth-straight game against the Braves (19-14-1, 4-5 MVC).
"This is always a fun series," Illinois State head coach Mark Kingston said. "With the schools being so close, there is a built-in rivalry. I know both teams and their fans will be ready."
The Redbirds swept the Braves at O'Brien Field in Peoria, Ill., last season. However, Bradley is an improved team that has already matched its 2011 conference win total. The Braves took one out of three games at Indiana State last weekend, with two of the contests going to extra innings. Bradley is coming off a mid-week win at Iowa.
Meanwhile, Illinois State lost both of its games at Missouri State last weekend, before ISU's series-finale against the Bears was canceled because of rain. The Redbirds stranded 27 runners on base and went 0-for-8 with the bases loaded during both games. ISU also lost its mid-week game, Tuesday, at Illinois, 7-5. Despite an early 5-0 lead, Illinois State gave up seven unanswered runs, and Illinois managed to split the season series with ISU.
Zac Johnson led the Redbirds against the Fighting Illini with a 2-for-3 effort, including three RBI and one run scored on a two-run home run. Johnson now leads Illinois State with a .357 batting average. Chad Hinshaw tops ISU with a .496 on-base percentage, and he is on a team-best 13-game on-base streak. Bradley is led offensively by Max Murphy, who is hitting .350 with six home runs.
Illinois State's weekend starting rotation will feature right-hander Chris Razo (4-3, 5.36 ERA) Friday and left-hander Dylan Craig (4-2, 6.21 ERA) Saturday. Sunday's starter has not yet been announced. Bradley will counter with left-hander Joe Bircher (4-1, 2.51 ERA), right-hander Justin Ziegler (2-3, 5.83 ERA) and Patrick Flanagan (1-1, 5.14 ERA).
In honor of the Pride and Passion exhibit at Illinois State University's Milner Library, Redbird baseball is hosting "Pride and Passion Day" during Saturday's 2 p.m. game, in recognition of the history of baseball's Negro Leagues. Starting at 1 p.m., members of the Negro Leagues will be in attendance to share the history of the league with ISU fans, followed by Ernie L. Westfield throwing out the first pitch. Westfield played for the Cubs organization in 1958 and served as the starting pitcher of the last East-West All-Star game in 1960 at Comiskey Park, in Chicago.
Admission is free to all games played at Duffy Bass Field this season. Additionally, live coverage of Saturday and Sunday's games will be broadcast on WHOW 1520 AM / 92.3 FM, with live video and audio of all three games on GoRedbirds.com.
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