Baseball Championship: Illinois State 3, Bradley 0
No. 2 ILLINOIS STATE 3, No. 7 BRADLEY 0
ILS (28-22); BU (20-31)
WICHITA, Kan. - Corey Maines and Ryan Copeland combined to hand Bradley its first shutout loss of the season and pitched Illinois State's first shutout in the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament since 1990 in a, 3-0, tournament-opening win at Eck Stadium Tuesday. Second-seeded Illinois State advances to play No. 3 seed Indiana State Wednesday at 4 p.m.
Maines scattered five hits over seven innings, then handed the ball to Copeland, a 2010 All-MVC First Team member, who retired the No. 7-seeded Braves in order in the eighth and ninth innings. Maines struck out four batters and walked just one to earn his team-best sixth win of the season. Copeland, who tied Illinois State's career innings pitched mark at 328 innings, struck out three of the six batters he faced and was credited with his third save of the season. It was the first time Illinois State has pitched a shutout in the Valley Tournament since topping Wichita State 1-0 in the opening round of the 1990 tournament.
Anthony Ruffolo led the Redbirds offensively, going 2-for-4 with a pair of runs batted in. Ruffolo cleaned up two Illinois State messes, clubbing a ground-rule double in the third inning to push across the first run of the game after a failed bunt attempt saw Kevin Tokarski thrown out at the plate, then singled in another run in the seventh after another ill-fated bunt try. Ryan Court singled in a run in the seventh to complete Illinois State's scoring and Kevin Tokarski and Zach Amrein each had two hits for the Redbirds.
Maines allowed base runners in six of his seven innings but received a boost from catcher Matt Mirabal, who caught two Braves trying to swipe second. Mike Tauchman became the first and only Brave to reach second base safely with a leadoff double in the fifth inning. He advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt, but Maines struck out David Campitello and induced an inning-ending double play to end the threat.
Tauchman finished the game 2-for-3 and Bradley's Brian Martin was 2-for-4. Bradley starter Patrick Cooper struck out eight Redbird batters but was tagged for 10 hits and was charged for all three runs. Justin Ziegler struck out two in 1.2 innings of scoreless relief.
Indiana State rallied from an early 5-1 deficit to beat Creighton 8-7 in extra innings in the first game Tuesday. The Sycamores and Redbirds will meet at 4 p.m. Wednesday, while Bradley and Creighton will meet in an elimination game at 9 a.m. Competition in the tournament's other bracket continued Tuesday night with Evansville matching-up with Southern Illinois and Wichita State playing Missouri State in the night cap.
The Redbirds will face the winner of No. 4 Southern Illinois/No. 5 Evansville on Wednesday, May 26 at 4 p.m., while the Braves will face the loser of the same game, beginning at 12:30 p.m. tomorrow.