All-Around Effort Claims Game 2 for Black, 6-4
Brett Thaden
Brett Thaden

Oct. 21, 2009

NORMAL, Ill. -

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Timely hitting, solid starting pitching, efficient base running and quality fielding were the ingredients the Black team used to take a 2-0 lead in the annual Illinois State baseball Fall Series, as JD Learnard struck out seven batters, without allowing a walk, over five innings to claim the win in a 6-4 victory Wednesday, at Duffy Bass Field

"J.D. had a tremendous stat line for a freshman pitching in a game like this," head coach Mark Kingston said. "I thought overall, the Black team played a much better brand of baseball, when you factor in defense, base running and how they pitched."

The Black team got on the board first after Gabe DeMarco singled through the left side of the infield in the bottom of the third inning to drive home Tyler McNeely, who had doubled earlier in the frame.

The lead was short-lived, as the Red team posted a run in the top of the fourth on a solo home run by Ryan Court to open the frame. Court's long ball proved to be the only run surrendered by Learnard and was one of the four hits.

The Black team responded with a four-run, fourth inning, when Brett Thaden made up for his missed opportunity an inning earlier with a single up to the middle to drive home McNeely and Ty Wiesemeyer.

"That's why playing this fall series is so important," Kingston said. "New guys, like freshman Brett Thaden get a chance to go through those scenarios. He failed the first time, but he got a second chance and did exactly like we teach - drive the ball through the middle of the field. He was rewarded with two RBIs on that play."

Thaden's base hit knocked Red starter Corey Maines out of the game, but his replacement Kasey Ourada was greeted with a double by Zach Amrein down the right field line that plated Thaden for a 4-1 lead. The Black team scored its fourth run of the inning when DeMarco tagged from third on Brett Kay's sacrifice fly.

Black appeared to be cruising to an easy win, but Red rebounded with three runs in the top of the sixth, all off of Kenny Long. The ISU relief pitcher opened the frame by hitting Red's first two batters, Anthony Ruffolo and Angelo Burrage. Ruffolo scored on a double down the left field line by Josh Colon and following a walk by Chad Hinshaw, Matt Mirabel also doubled down the left field line which scored both Burrage and Colon.

Long intentionally walked Ryan Court and Evan Kohli stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and no outs. Kohli lifted a short fly ball to left field that was caught by Jake Thornton, while Hinshaw attempted to score from third base and was tagged out at the plate by DeMarco for the double play. Ruffolo grounded out to the second basemen to end the inning and the rally, as Red trailed, 5-4.

"The one thing we preach all the time is that we will be aggressive on the bases," Kingston said. "Hinshaw, who can absolutely fly, tried to tie the game up by tagging from third base and we will do that probably nine out of 10 times. We will push the envelope. We will be aggressive."

The Black team added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning when Wiesemeyer doubled home Kay for the 6-4 lead. Wiesemeyer posted a 4-for-4 effort at the plate with a double and a triple. McNeely and DeMarco each added a pair of base hits for the Black team as well.

Jacob Wielebnicki shutout the Red team in the top of the seventh inning for his second save of the series. Both Hinshaw and Mirabal collected a pair of hits to lead the Red team, with Mirabel knocking in two runs.

The Red team will look to avoid a sweep, as the series concludes with game three Friday, at 4 p.m., on Duffy Bass Field.