Ewert, Redbirds Build Early Lead, Hold on For 12-9 Victory
April 16, 2008
NORMAL, Ill. - Junior Quinn Ewert had a career day at the plate after he batted 4-for-4 with a triple and two RBI, as the Illinois State baseball team (15-17) built an early lead and held on for a 12-9 win over Robert Morris College Wednesday at Duffy Bass Field. Ewert set a new career-best with four hits, while he also tied his career-high with two stolen bases and added two runs scored. Production up-and-down the lineup was the key to the victory, as every batter in the Illinois State lineup recorded a hit in the Redbirds' second-straight win at home.
Freshman Corey Maines (3-4) was solid in relief, as the right-hander picked up the win after he threw 5.2 innings and allowed three runs (no earned) on four hits while striking out six. The Redbird bats picked up for the rocky start by the bullpen, as five players recorded two-plus hits in the game. Ewert was joined by freshman Kevin Tokarski, who had two hits and two RBI, as well as freshman Ronnie Calvird, senior Kevin Konsler and junior Justin Rahn, who all tallied two hits and a RBI.
"Quinn has been a huge lift in the bottom of our order. He's hasn't really played in two years; every day he is coming to the ball park and getting better," said head coach Jim Brownlee. "That bodes well for the second half of our season. He's locked in right now, and it helps us because he can also steal a base. He was right on it tonight. Corey also pitched well, as he got out of a pretty good jam in the third inning. He struggled when he first came into the game, but as the game progressed he settled down and got it going in the last three innings. I thought that as the game wore on he pitched better, and that's a good sign."
The Redbirds got off to a great start in the first inning, as junior Mike Stalowy led off with a single and moved into scoring position after he stole second base. Tokarski brought Stalowy home on a RBI single to right center field and he moved to second on a ground out from junior Kevin Dubler (1-for-5, RBI). Sophomore Anthony Ruffolo followed with a double down the right field line to score Tokarski, and senior Kyle Cherney put runners on the corners with a single through the right side of the infield. Ewert gave the Redbirds a 4-0 lead on a triple, which was the first of his collegiate career. Konsler added the final run of the inning on a single to centerfield, building the Illinois State advantage to 5-0.
Illinois State added two more runs in the second, as Tokarski led off with his first-career triple to in the left field gap. Cherney scored the shortstop on a sacrifice fly to centerfield, while Ruffolo later scored on a double from Calvird after the designated hitter walked with one out.
After each team added a run in the third, relief pitcher Matt Werderitch ran into trouble after the lead-off batter reached on an error and two more reached on walks to load the bases with one out. Werderitch lost his control, as he walked the next two batters to plate two runners and was relieved by Maines. But the problems continued for the bullpen, as another run would come in on a four-pitch walk. Eagle second baseman Kevin Meyer then put Robert Morris back in the game when he hit a bases-loaded single to centerfield, as the Eagles scored two more and cut into the deficit at 8-5.
But ISU re-grouped and scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth, as Rahn led off with a single and Stalowy followed with another single up the middle. Rahn moved to third on the play, while the throw from centerfielder Joe Prenovost landed into the Redbird dugout, allowing Rahn to score and Stalowy to move to third base. Tokarski brought Stalowy home on a sacrifice, giving Illinois State a 10-7 lead.
The Redbirds put the game out of reach in the bottom of the sixth, as ISU plated two runs after loading the bases with one out. Calvird scored the first run after he came home on a wild pitch, while Rahn hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score Ewert to put ISU ahead for good, 12-7.
Maines settled down and retired six of the next seven batters, until Robert Morris rallied to score two runs on an error and a sacrifice squeeze in the top of the ninth. But Maines kept his composure and forced left fielder Goren Anderson to ground out to first to end the game.
The Redbirds will wrap up their eight-game homestand this weekend, when they host Chicago State. The three-game series will begin Friday at 6 p.m.