Late Rally Falls Short, Redbirds Drop 6-4 Decision in Game Two
March 22, 2008
NORMAL, Ill. - Senior Kevin Konsler and freshman Ronnie Calvird each tallied two hits apiece but a late rally by the Illinois State baseball team fell short, as the Redbirds dropped the second game of a doubleheader, 6-4, to No. 15 Wichita State in a Missouri Valley Conference game Saturday at Duffy Bass Field. The Redbirds (9-7, 0-2 MVC) scored two runs apiece in the seventh and eighth innings to cut the Shockers' lead to one run heading into the ninth inning, but were unable to overcome the deficit, as Illinois State dropped its second-straight to open up conference play.
Konsler finished the day with a double and a RBI, while freshman Kevin Tokarski added one hit and one RBI. Sophomore Ryan Copeland (3-2) suffered his second loss of the season, as he surrendered six runs (four earned) on seven hits, while striking out three in 8.1 innings of work. The Shockers enjoyed another solid performance from their starting pitcher, as Aaron Shafer threw six innings of scoreless ball to pick up the win.
The two teams battled through the first four innings, as neither team was able to get on the board until the fifth. The Shockers scored two runs in the top half of the frame, after second baseman Josh Workman singled to centerfield and advanced to second when the ball got past centerfielder Corey Maines. After another runner reached on an error by second baseman Ronnie Calvird, left fielder Kenny Williams Jr. hit a single to center field. The ball got past Maines again as he charged to make the play and Wichita State grabbed a 2-0 lead.
"I thought Ryan Copeland pitched well and gave us a chance, but we didn't help ourselves by committing errors in the fifth inning," said Illinois State head coach Jim Brownlee. "We didn't communicate very well, and you can't give Wichita State three errors in one inning. Ryan pitched really well in the game, and that is something for us to hang our hats on. He's been our best pitcher so far this season. Wichita State is a very good team, and when you make a mistake they can score in a hurry. Their three-man pitching staff is as good as any in the country. But our kids did a good job of battling back, which is something that they have done all year."
The Shockers scored three more runs in the top of the sixth, after Wichita State loaded the bases. Catcher Cody Lassley, who underwent an appendectomy just 10 days prior to Saturday's game, followed with a double to left field to empty the bases and widen the Shockers' lead, 5-0.
The Redbirds were able to cut into the Shockers' lead in the bottom of the seventh, when Shafer left the game after throwing 104 pitches in sixth innings of work. Konsler led off the inning with a double to the gap in left field, and Calvird followed with a single, moving Konsler to third base. Sophomore Dan Weston then hit into a double play, however, grounded the ball to the right side of the infield which allowed Konsler to score. Sophomore Cole Marty reached on a walk, and moved to second after junior Mike Stalowy was hit by a pitch. Marty scored when Tokarski singled through the left side of the infield, but relief pitcher Tyler Fleming was able to end the threat when he got junior Kevin Dubler to fly out to left field.
After Copeland retired the Shockers in order in the top of the eighth, the Redbirds' bats continued to heat up. Senior Kyle Cherney got the rally started with a double down the left field line, and later scored on a single from Konsler. Calvird moved Konsler to third on a fly out to right field, and Konsler came home on a wild pitch from Fleming. But Fleming retired the next batter, pinch hitter Anthony Ruffolo, on a strike out to end the Redbirds' rally. The Shockers added an insurance run in the top of the ninth, and Fleming shut down the Redbirds in order to end Illinois State's chances.
The Redbirds will wrap up their three-game set against Wichita State Sunday. First pitch from Duffy Bass Field is slated for 1 p.m.