The weather may not have been perfect and the Sycamores may not have played a perfect game but Indiana State did come up with a victory in their home opener Saturday, turning back the Western Illinois Fighting Leathernecks 4-2 at Bob Warn Field.
The victory was the 10th straight for Indiana State as they improved to 10-1 on the young season. The Sycamores and Leathernecks (1-7) will play at 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday and then wrap up their three-game set with a 12 p.m. (ET) game on Monday.
“It’s a win,” Mitch Hannahs, Indiana State baseball coach said. “Stagg was not on top of his game and we had some errors which the kids don’t normally make today.”
After three weeks on the road, Indiana State’s home opener was delayed twice this week. The Sycamores were scheduled to host Eastern Illinois on Tuesday with that game postponed by last weekend’s winter weather. Friday’s opening game of the Western Illinois series was postponed until Monday as Indiana State’s ground crew worked long hours to get the field into playing shape.
Dave Stagg worked six innings to record his fourth win in four starts this season, giving up two runs (one earned) on four hits while striking out six and walking three. He was relieved in the top of the seventh by Nick Kolarik who worked 1.1 innings, shutting down the Leathernecks on no hits while striking out one and walking one. Ryan Keaffaber recorded his fifth save of the season as he worked the final 1.2 innings, shutting out Western Illinois on one hit while striking out one and walking none.
Western Illinois opened the scoring by pushing across a run in the top of the fourth inning. Indiana State came right back in their half of the fourth, scoring three times to take the lead for good. The Sycamores had two men aboard with two outs after Mike Fitzgerald was hit by a pitch, stole second, and remained there when Tyler Wampler walked. Both scored when Jeff Zahn doubled down the right field line with Zahn also scoring as Derek Hannahs followed with an RBI single to center.
The Leathernecks cut the deficit to one in the sixth but Western Illinois could not get any closer. The Sycamores tacked on one more in the eighth after Cody Zimmerman doubled to left, went to third as Jacob Hayes grounded out to first, and scored on Fitzgerald’s sacrifice fly to center.
Indiana State finished with four hits in the game as Zimmerman and Zahn each doubled, and Fitzgerald and Wampler each hit a single.