Baseball Championship: Indiana State 7, Illinois State 6
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Kyle Burnam, Indiana State

INS (28-27); ILS (36-18)

OMAHA, Neb. - An eighth-inning sacrifice fly from sophomore Robby Ort gave the Indiana State baseball team a late one-run lead and senior Blake Drake picked up his 10th save of the season in the ninth, leading the Sycamores past the Illinois State Redbirds in an elimination game from the 2011 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament and TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.

The win keeps Indiana State (28-27) alive in the tournament, as the Sycamores advance to face the Shockers of Wichita State at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday evening. Illinois State exits the tournament after their second loss to the Sycamores, finishing the year at 36-18.

Both ISU and ILS picked up runs in the first inning on Thursday morning, with the Sycamores finishing the inning with a 2-1 lead. The Redbirds took the lead on a sacrifice fly by senior Ryan Court, but Indiana State answered right back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the frame.

Junior Kyle Burnam and sophomore Koby Kraemer opened the bottom half of the inning with back-to-back singles, with Burnam moving to third on a wild pitch with sophomore Robby Ort at the plate. Ort drove in the first run of the game, grounding into a fielder's choice at first that allowed Burnam to score from third and the Redbirds to get Kraemer at second, but senior Josh Colon's throw back to first went wide of the bag, allowing Ort to advance to second. After a walk to sophomore Jeremy Lucas, junior Jon Hedges slapped a pitch towards third base that got past Court, as Ort rounded third and scored on the play to give the Sycamores the lead.

Indiana State added to their lead in the third and fourth innings, tallying two runs in each frame. In the third, Lucas reached with a single to center and Hedges drew a walk to start the inning. After a sacrifice bunt by junior Lucas Hileman, Lucas came around to score on a two-out single by freshman Tyler Wampler before Hedges scored on a wild pitch by Illinois State starting pitcher JD Learnard.

In the fourth, Burnam and Kraemer started the inning with back-to-back singles before the Sycamores loaded the bases with a one-out intentional walk to Lucas. Hedges brought Burnam home with a sacrifice fly before Kraemer made it 6-1 Indiana State when he scored on a wild pitch.

The Redbirds swung the momentum in their favor in the top of the fifth inning, scoring five runs on two swings of the bat in frame. Junior Kevin Tokarski picked up a RBI with a bases-loaded single to center, allowing senior Tyler McNeely to tie the game at 6-6 with a deep shot into the left-center field bleachers for a one-out grand slam off Indiana State starter Jason Van Skike.

Junior Reggie Hochstedler (4-1) and Redbird reliever Cam Verbeke (0-2) both relieved their respective starting pitchers in the fifth inning and both pitched well. Hochstedler earned the win in relief, tossing 3.1 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit while striking out one; also setting down the final nine batters he faced. Despite receiving the loss, Verbeke tossed three innings strong before getting pulled as ISU rallied in the eighth. Drake came out of the bullpen to secure the save, striking out Tokarski to end the game, his 10th save of the season.

Kraemer and Wampler both picked up three hits at the plate on Thursday morning, with Ort driving in two runs.