Stanton, Johnson Power Redbirds Past Tigers, 7-4
February 16, 2013
MEMPHIS, Tenn.- A pair of two-run home runs from Kyle Stanton and Zac Johnson powered Illinois State (2-0) to a 7-4 come-from-behind win Saturday afternoon at Memphis (0-2). The Redbirds rallied for runs in each of the final four innings to take the series against the Tigers.
Joe Claver (1-0) earned the victory in relief and Chris Razo (2) tallied his second-career save. Memphis pitcher Clayton Gant (0-1) was handed the loss in relief. Johnson finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI, pacing a seven-hit Illinois State attack.
For the second consecutive game, Memphis scored first, rallying for a pair of runs off Illinois State starter Dylan Craig in the second inning. Nate Rupiper’s two-run triple plated Carter White and Colton Simbeck, but would be the only runs allowed by Craig. Memphis loaded the bases with one out in the fourth inning before Craig induced a 6-4-3 double-play to end the frame. The sophomore lefty finished the game with a no-decision and pitched four innings with four strike outs and two walks. Otto Roberts retired two batters in the fifth inning in his Illinois State debut, before Joe Claver got Carter White to pop-out with two men on base to end a Tigers scoring threat.
Illinois State struggled offensively through the first five innings, as Memphis starter Erik Schoenrock struck out career-best 10 batters, but the Redbirds chased the Tigers pitcher with a three-run sixth inning. Brett Kay and Johnson opened the frame with consecutive singles; with Kay advancing to third on Johnson’s hit. Eric Aguilera’s sacrifice fly scored Kay to make the deficit 2-1. One batter later, Stanton launched a two-run home run over the left field fence to give Illinois State its first lead of the game. It marked Stanton’s second-career home run.
Memphis tied the game in the bottom of the sixth, scoring one run off Claver, but the Redbirds responded with one run in the sixth inning to take the lead for good. Chad Hinshaw opened the inning with a double and scored on a passed ball, putting ISU in front 4-3.
Aguilera led off the seventh inning with a single, stole second and scored on a passed ball, making it 5-3 Redbirds. In the ninth, Brett Kay drew a one-out walk, stole second base and scored on Johnson’s first home run of the season, a towering shot over the right field fence off Tigers closer Jonathan Van Eaton.
David Suarez worked a perfect eighth inning, striking out two Tigers, in his Illinois State debut, but allowed the tying run to come to the plate with two outs in the ninth inning. The Redbirds called upon Razo, who got Simbeck to ground out to third to end the game.
The series wraps up Sunday with a 1:00 p.m. first pitch from FedExPark. Illinois State’s Dan Savas gets his first start of the season and will face Memphis junior college transfer Alex Gunn.
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