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Holm Field Advantage: Redbirds top Sacramento State

Written by on April 17, 2019

NORMAL – Back in September when his team’s schedule was released, first-year Illinois State Baseball Head Coach Steve Holm had one thing in mind for their April 17th matchup with Sacramento State: to bite the hand that once fed him.

On Wednesday night at Duffy Bass Field, Holm and the Redbirds did just that when they defeated the Hornets in a close game, 2 -1. Before serving as Purdue’s pitching coach from 2016 through 2018, Holm started his coaching career with Sacramento State in 2013 when he served as the team’s pitching coach for three seasons

“I told our guys it was a must win game for us, the reason I got into coaching was because of that program,” said Holm.

“It was a big time win for us.”

The Redbirds, coming off of Tuesday night’s road loss to the University of Illinois at Chicago, got back on track with their 9th home win of the season in comeback fashion. Sacramento State got on the board first in the 5th inning when catcher Dylan McPhillips launched a solo shot over the left field fence.

However, It didn’t take long for the Birds to respond. In the bottom of the 5th inning, Jack Butler lead off with a single before eventually scoring on a two-run homer by center fielder John Rave. For the junior, it was his sixth home run and 27th RBI of the season.

Rave says that it took him a couple of plate appearances, but he was able to improve his hitting approach later in the game.

‘I thought my first two at-bats, I was a little jumpy, not really letting the game come to me and I kind of settled in there my third at-bat. I got in a hitter’s count, got a good pitch to hit, saw it deep and let it go to left field.”

The Hornets attempted to tie things in the bottom of the 9th after a Keith Torres leadoff single and two-out walk, but pinch-hitter Dylan Ohlsen ended the game by falling victim to a Jacob Gilmore strikeout (who picked up his seventh save of the season). 

Mitch Vogrin now 3-0, picked up the win for the Redbirds, pitching three innings allowing four hits and just one earned run, while striking out three and walking none. Besides Vogrin, Illinois State pitching allowed just two hits while striking out five batters. The loss went to Sacramento State’s Travis Martizia, who falls to 2-1 on the season. 

“Colton Johnson came out and gave us some energy.” Holm explained.

“We ran out our four guys when the game was on the line and we felt comfortable with all four of those guys in the game and obviously we’re trying to get them enough pitches that they can still throw Friday, but obviously try to win this game and that’s exactly what they did.”

With the win, Illinois State improves to 22-15 while Sacramento State falls to 23-13. John Rave agreed with Coach Holm that this was a must win ballgame.

“It was just important for us to get back in the win column, anyway to do it, just what we had to do tonight, SIU is a really good team so it’s nice having a little momentum going into the weekend so I’d say it was a big win for us,” said Rave.

Illinois State returns to action on Friday when they open up a three-game series with Southern Illinois in Carbondale, with first pitch set for 6:30.

Nick Imparo contributed to this story.