Sunday Baseball Recaps: Sycamores Register Second-Straight Valley Series Sweep
Monday, April 13, 2009

Indiana State captured its second-straight series sweep in Missouri Valley Conference baseball action, scoring 12 unanswered run to defeat the Bradley Braves, 12-4.  The Redbirds of Illinois State knocked off Missouri State for the second time in three days, behind a bases loaded 10th inning walk-off single by Anthony Ruffolo, taking the game, 6-5.  The final Valley contest on Sunday featured Creighton's Robbie Knight going a perfect 3-3 with four runs, and Darin Ruf tying a career-high five RBIs, as the Bluejays used the run rule to defeat Northern Iowa, 14-1, in seven innings. 

Indiana State 12, Bradley 4
INS (20-11, 7-3 MVC); BU (11-19, 0-7 MVC)

Heading into Sunday’s series finale against Bradley, Indiana State was looking for its second straight series sweep over a Missouri Valley Conference opponent.  After a rocky start, the Sycamores (20-11, 7-3 MVC) scored 12 unanswered runs to defeat the Braves (11-19, 0-7 MVC)by a score of 12-4 and earn the series sweep at Sycamore Field on Easter Sunday.

ISU starter Joe Rodriguez (4-1) struggled in the first two innings and gave up four earned runs.  However, the left-hander regained his composure and allowed just three hits over the next five plus innings to pick up his fourth win on the season.  In all, Rodriguez pitched 7.1 innings and gave up four runs on seven hits while striking out four to move to 3-0 in three starts in Valley play.  Bradley starter Rob Scahill (1-1) suffered the loss, after allowing six runs on nine hits in 5.1 innings on the mound.

Bradley picked up three runs on two hits in the top of the first inning off Rodriguez to take a 3-0 lead.  Nick Mitidiero drove in the first run with a RBI single into center field and Adam Kimble drove in two runs later in the inning with a double down the left field line to give his team the early 3-0 lead.  The Braves then added a run in the top of the second inning on a RBI single by Colby Luttrell to make the score 4-0.

Indiana State began to chip away at the lead with two runs in the bottom of the third inning.  With two outs in the inning, Brady Shoemaker singled to shortstop and Nick Ciolli walked to give the Sycamores a couple of base runners.  Luke Fieser was up next and singled into right field to score Shoemaker as Ciolli advanced to third base and Tyler Graham was hit by a pitch to load the bases.  With Bronco Lafrenz at the plate, Scahill uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Ciolli to score for the second and final run of the inning.

The score stayed there until the bottom of the sixth inning, when the Sycamores took the lead for good with six runs on five hits to make the score 8-4.  Joe Meggs singled through the right side to lead off the inning and Ben Ferrell advanced Meggs to second base with a sacrifice bunt to third base. Ryan Strausborger followed with a double down the left field line to score the first run of the inning and extend his hitting streak to 15 games. Kyle Burnam then singled through the left side to score Strausborger before Shoemaker walked after working the count full. 

With two runners on and one out, Joe Bircher came in to pitch for Scahill but it did not help as Ciolli doubled to left field to bring in Shoemaker and Burnam for two more runs.  Fieser then reached on an error and advanced all the way to third base on the errant throw as Ciolli scored the unearned run.  After getting the second out of the inning, Bircher gave up a double to Lafrenz doubled down the left field line at Fieser scored the final run of the inning to cap off the six-run rally.

ISU added a run in the bottom of the seventh inning and capped off the game with three runs in the eighth inning on Brian Jett’s sixth home run of the season to bring the score to 12-4 and earn the sweep.  Shoemaker finished the day 3-for-4 with two runs scored and Fieser was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and a RBI.

Illinois State 6, Missouri State 5 (10 innings)
ILS (16-10, 6-4 MVC); MSU (18-14, 6-2 MVC)

NORMAL, Ill. --
Don’t count Illinois State out. For the second time in three games, the Redbirds won in their last at-bat as Anthony Ruffolo drove in two with a bases loaded single in the bottom of the 10th and lifted ISU to a series-clinching, 6-5, win over Missouri State at Duffy Bass Field Sunday.

The Redbirds used a walk-off hit by Mike Stalowy to hand the Bears (18-14, 6-2 MVC) their first Missouri Valley Conference loss in game one of a doubleheader Saturday, and clinched the series with Sunday’s rally. Ruffolo hit a solo home run to tie the contest in the bottom of the seventh inning and answered a single run by Missouri State in the top of the 10th by driving in Tyler McNeely and Stalowy with a single to left.  

Ruffolo finished the game 2-for-6, one of four Redbirds (16-10, 6-4 MVC) with multiple hit games. Stalowy went 3-for-5 and collected eight total hits in the three game series. McNeely and Ryan Court each had two hits.

Missouri State scored a run in the first and second innings and led 2-1 after five despite getting just one hit off Illinois State starter Corey Maines. Both teams traded runs in the sixth inning before Ruffolo tied it up with a home run to right field and chased Missouri State starter Aaron Meade from the game.

Missouri State scored in the top of the eighth as an intentional and unintentional walk loaded the bases with one out. Chris Playter hit a sacrifice fly to right to put the Bears up 4-3, but Maines induced a pop-up to left before any further damage could be done. Maines left the game after eight innings with four hits surrendered but walked six and hit two batters.

The Redbirds used small ball in the bottom half of the eighth to put Cole Marty in scoring position and with two outs, in a 0-2 hole to Missouri State’s Pat Doyle, Stalowy singled to center to score Marty and draw Illinois State even again. Both teams stranded runners in the ninth inning to force extra frames.

Ben Carlson led off the 10th with a solo home run against Redbird closer Jim Sajewich and the Bears got a runner in scoring position before Kenny Long struck out pinch-hitter Zak Swyhart to end the half inning.

Jon Barnes retired Collin Salzenstein to start the bottom of the 10th but unraveled from there. McNeely singled up the middle then Stalowy and Evan Kohli walked to load the bases for Ruffolo. Ruffolo roped the 1-1 offering into left for the walk-off win. Long picked up his first collegiate win in relief.

Illinois State will travel to Northern Illinois Tuesday for a 3 p.m. game before welcoming Purdue for a 6 p.m. tilt Wednesday. Wednesday is Buck Night at Duffy Bass Field with admission and various items at the concession stand costing just $1. The Redbirds resume Valley play with a three-game series at Northern Iowa next weekend (April 17-19).

Creighton 14, Northern Iowa 1
CU (17-16, 9-3 MVC); UNI (14-18, 3-9 MVC)

OMAHA, Neb. --
Robbie Knight went 3-3 with four runs, and Darin Ruf tied a career-high with five RBI, as the Creighton baseball team used the run rule to defeat Northern Iowa 14-1 in seven innings.

Creighton got on the board in the bottom of the first as Robbie Knight led off with a home run. Elliot Soto then reached on an error before going to third on a failed pickoff attempt and scored on Darin Ruf's groundout to second, making it 2-0 Jays after one.

Carson Vitale led off the bottom of the second with a double to left, before scoring on a Carlos Pinedo walk. Knight extended the lead further by tripling into the left-center gap, bringing home Nick Becker from third. After a walk to Ruf, Cafaro hit a ground ball to second, that bounced off the glove of Schultz, allowing Knight to score, and make it 5-0 in favor of CU.

It became 7-0 in the fourth as Knight and Soto began a two-out rally with back-to-back singles. Knight scored on Soto's hit as UNI right fielder Brett Douglas threw the ball away trying to gun down Knight at third. Soto then scored on Ruf's single through the left side for the second run of the inning.

After the teams traded a run each, Darin Ruf put the 10-run rule in effect as he launched a three-run home run to left in the bottom of the sixth. Scott Thornburg would finish the scoring for the Jays, launching a three-run home run of his own, making it 14-1 Creighton.

ISU returns to action on Tuesday, when it begins a two-game mid-week series at Missouri.  First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST at Taylor Stadium in Columbia, Mo.