Redbirds Claim Series From Bears With 7-1 Victory
April 20, 2014
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - For the second straight day Illinois State got a big lift from the bottom of its batting order, as the Redbirds built an early five-run lead and never looked back in a 7-1 victory over Missouri State Sunday afternoon at Hammons Field. Dennis Colon and Brian Rodemoyer--the Redbirds' No. 8 and 9 hitters--reached base in eight of their 10 combined plate appearances to spark ISU's attack, while Jeremy Rhoades held the Bears scoreless until the fifth inning to lock up his fourth win of the season.
ISU (24-12, 7-5 MVC) scored in four consecutive innings and outhit the Bears 14-5 to finish off the series victory and overtake MSU (17-19, 6-6 MVC) for sole possession of fourth place in the Missouri Valley Conference standings.
The duo of Colon and Rodemoyer was a big part of ISU's strong day at the plate, combining for five hits in seven official at-bats, while factoring in each of the Redbirds' seven tallies. Colon, who went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs in Saturday's 6-1 ISU victory, scored twice after recording hits in each of his first three at-bats Sunday. Rodemoyer (2-for-2, 3 RBIs) was even more successful in the finale, walking three times to reach base in all five of his trips to the plate after doubling in a run and delivering a two-run homer to help the Redbirds build their early advantage.
Rodemoyer put the Redbirds on the board in the second with an RBI double down the left-field line after Brock Stewart drew a leadoff walk from Bears starter Jake Powers, and Colon delivered the first of his three singles on the day. ISU struck again in the third to push its lead to 2-0, cashing in on Mike Hollenbeck's one-out double when Jack Czeszewski drove him home with a two-out base hit.
The visitors stretched the margin to four runs in the fourth thanks to Rodemoyer's second home run of the season--a two-run shot to left--that followed another Colon single to start the rally. Colon's third hit of the day--a leadoff single in the fifth--helped ISU claim a 5-0 cushion, as Sean Beesley drove in the junior shortstop with a two-out single to right.
MSU got on the board in the home half of the fifth, but missed out on a prime opportunity for a big inning after Rhoades handed out four walks in the frame. Conner Wilson was the beneficiary of the first free pass and, after two more walks, came home on Dylan Becker's RBI grounder to second. A base on balls to Tate Matheny loaded the bases again, but Rhoades induced a tap back to the mound from Eric Cheray to squash the threat and keep it a 5-1 game.
The Bears would put two runners on base again in the sixth and seventh innings, but Rhoades worked out of each jam to preserve the ISU lead. Back-to-back run-scoring singles by Hollenbeck and Joe Kelch in the top of the seventh completed the scoring. In addition to big efforts from Colon and Rodemoyer, the visitors also received a boost from Hollenbeck, who went 3-for-5 with an RBI, a walk and a run scored, while Daniel Dwyer added a pair of hits for the Redbirds. Overall, Rhoades scattered five hits and six walks over 8.0 innings, before David Suarez closed out the contest by striking out the side in the ninth.
Blake Graham provided a spark at the top of the Bears' lineup, reaching base safely in each of his final four plate appearances. The freshman singled, walked twice and was hit by a pitch, and Becker singled, walked and drove in the lone MSU run of the game.
Powers (1-4) suffered the loss for MSU after striking out four and allowing four runs on eight hits and a pair of walks over 3.1 innings. Zach Merciez surrendered three runs on four hits over his 3.1 innings of relief, before Tyler Burgess and Jordan Knutson teamed up to hold ISU scoreless over the final 2 1/3 innings.
Up next, the Bears begin a stretch that will see them play eight of their next nine games on the road, beginning with a non-conference match-up against Kansas at 6 p.m. Wednesday (April 23) evening in Lawrence.