For only the second time this season the Indiana State baseball team failed to plate a run in a game as they lost to the University of Illinois Fighting Illini 8-0 in a mid-week non-conference game played at Illinois Field.
“I am glad we finally got a midweek game in,” Mitch Hannahs, Indiana State baseball coach said. The Sycamores have had three mid-week games postponed by weather so far this season including two at home.
“You have to take it for what it is worth,” Hannahs said. “Obviously we have some things that we have to shore up. We didn’t get the ball to the right base from the outfield a couple of times and I thought we pressed a little bit when we got behind four or five runs.”
Indiana State used five pitchers on the day starting with Trent Lunsford who went three innings in being charged with the loss. Lunsford (0-1) gave up three runs on six hits while striking out one and walking two. Austin Conway made his second appearance of the season and Tyler Browning his third appearance while Nick Martin and John Patterson each were called to the mound for the first time this season.
“We got to see a lot of guys who have not had the opportunity to get out there and throw much,” Hannahs said. “I thought the guys who came in from the bull pen gave us what they had. They competed.
Illinois scored twice in the second, once in the third, four times in the fifth, and picked up another in the seventh.
“You have to give Illinois credit,” Hannahs said. “Their guy came out and threw extremely well in the first five innings and really kind of gave them a jump start. You can’t play good teams on the road from behind. We got behind today and had to battle uphill. It wasn’t a good day for us from that standpoint but we learned a lot today. We got some things we need to shore up and we will go back to the work shed and get better.”
The Sycamores did have their opportunities. Cody Zimmerman blasted a one-out double that just missed clearing the left centerfield fence by a few feet in the first inning. But after Jacob Hayes walked, Illinois starter Rob McDonnell got Mike Fitzgerald to ground into a double play to end the inning.
Indiana State did not have another base runner until the fourth when Fitzgerald walked but he was taken out when Michael Eberle hit into a fielder’s choice. Derek Hannahs beat out an infield single in the fifth and went to second on a McDonnell throwing error. Connor McClain followed with a single to left but Hannahs was gunned down trying to score on a throw by Illini left fielder Ryan Nagle.
Brian Romero pinch hit for Eberle in the seventh and doubled but was left stranded while in the eighth, Hannahs reached after being hit by a pitch and Landon Curry singled. Neither could score, however, when Zimmerman grounded into a double play. The final opportunity came in the ninth when Tony Rosselli pinch hit for Hayes and doubled down the left field line to lead off the inning. Two strikeouts and a ground out later, the game was over.
It was the first time that Indiana State failed to score since their season opener against Auburn (4-0) in the Snowbird Classic at Port Charlotte, Fla.,
Indiana State fell to 14-3 on the season and opens Missouri Valley Conference action on the road this weekend. The Sycamores will play Evansville at 7 p.m. (ET) Friday, 2 p.m. (ET) Saturday, and 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday. Illinois improved to 8-9 on the season as they opened their home season with the win.
“I know our guys will be ready this weekend,” Hannahs said. “It wasn’t a good day for us but there will be better days ahead.”
Zimmerman has now hit safely in 11 straight games and posted his 10th multiple hit game of the season with a double and a single in four trips to the plate in leading the Sycamore offense. Hannahs has now hit safely in nine straight games with his single in the fifth inning. Rosselli and Romero each had a double in the game with Curry and McClain each hitting a single.