Indiana State rallied in the top of the ninth to end a three-game losing streak with a come-from-behind 5-4 win over the Southern Illinois Salukis at Itchy Jones Stadium on Saturday.
The Sycamores (22-10, 6-5 in the Valley) and the Salukis (18-16, 3-5 in the Valley) will play the rubber game of their three-game series at 2 p.m. (ET) Sunday. Southern Illinois won the Friday meeting 2-1 in 13 innings.
“Another gritty performance by this group of guys,” Mitch Hannahs, Indiana State baseball coach, said. “They just don’t give up.”
Brad Lombard started on the mound for the Sycamores and went five innings, giving up three runs on six hits while striking out four and walking four. Nick Kolarik took over in the fifth and faced three batters without recording an out.
Senior right hander Josh Dove (2-1) came on with the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth and shut down the Salukis on one hit while walking one and striking out one.
“What a tough situation for him to come into,” Hannahs said. “He pitched a tremendous game and gave us a chance to come back and win.”
For the first time in seven games, the Sycamores had the lead-off batter in the game reach safely as Landon Curry singled up the middle. After Cody Zimmerman flew out, Curry stole second, his 13th stolen base in 16 tries this season, and advanced to third as Jacob Hayes grounded out to second. Mike Fitzgerald worked the count full and got a pitch he liked, driving the ball into the left field corner for a double and his 19th RBI of the season as Curry came home to score.
Indiana State pushed over another run in the top of the third. Derek Hannahs led off with a single and went to second as Landon Curry grounded out. Zimmerman was hit by a pitch before Hannahs was caught in no man’s land between second and third. Zimmerman was able to advance to second on the play and scored as Jacob Hayes picked up his 18th RBI of the season with a single to center.
That’s the way the game stood until the bottom of the sixth when the Salukis scored four times to take their only lead of the day. Brad Lombard gave up consecutive singles to SIU’s Ryan Casillas, Cody Daily, and Jake Hand to open the inning and was relieved by Nick Kolarik. The junior right hander hit two of the three batters he faced and gave up a two RBI single to Tyler Roland as the Salukis took the lead at 3-2. Josh Dove took over and gave a walk that scored another run but was able to retire the side after that as the Salukis took a 4-2 lead.
The Sycamores came back with one in the eighth on two outs and had a chance to more but could not score again. Zimmerman led off with a walk before Hayes and Fitzgerald both struck out. Michael Eberle followed with a single to center to move Zimmerman up. Tyler Wampler followed with an RBI single to center that scored Zimmerman and brought the Sycamores within one at 4-3. Eberle ended up at third but was left stranded.
Indiana State scored twice in the top of the ninth to regain the lead. Hannahs and Curry each singled with one out and Zimmerman followed with an RBI single to score Hannahs with the tying run and move Curry to third. Hayes then laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt that allowed Curry to score the go ahead run and the Sycamores went on to post the win.
The Sycamores scored five runs on 11 hits led by Fitzgerald who had a double and a single. Curry and Hannahs also had two singles each with Zimmerman, Hayes, Wampler, and McClain each hitting a single.