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Written by on March 29, 2021

Image courtesy of goredbirds.com

NORMAL, Ill. – Hot bats and steady pitching led the way for Illinois State baseball over the weekend, as the Redbirds (7-14 overall) scored 22 total runs in three games en route to winning two out of three contests against Arkansas State (5-14 overall) in their non-conference series.

Illinois State opened the series Friday by snapping a six-game losing streak with a 6-3 win over the Red Wolves. Led by fifth-year senior Jordan Libman who went 3-for-5 with an RBI, The Redbirds totaled 12-hits (all singles). Left-handed pitcher Colton Johnson recorded his first win of the season going 6.1-innings while giving up three runs. Second-year freshman Erik Kubiatowicz shined by recording four strikeouts before third-year sophomore Derek Salata closed the game for his first save of 2021.

The second game of the series was halted midway through on Saturday due to rain, forcing the completion on Sunday. When play resumed tied at 2-all, the Redbirds added three runs in the fifth to reclaim a 5-2 lead, then one more in the sixth on a wild pitch. Ryan Cermak’s 414-foot home run to center field would make the lead 9-2 in the seventh. However, the Red Wolves would not go away quietly by pulling within one during a six-run eighth inning. The Redbirds eventually escaped with a narrow 10-9 win as Derek Salata shut the door by picking up a one-pitch save.

In the series finale, Arkansas State put on an offensive clinic crushing 19 hits off nine ISU pitchers in a 13-6 victory for the Red Wolves. After finding themselves in an early 3-0 deficit, Illinois State responded with six unanswered runs, including a four-run fifth inning before Arkansas State blew the game wide open with 10 runs in the final three innings. Hayden Jones was the lone bright spot for the Redbirds, launching a three-run homer to right field scoring Tyson Hays and Jordan Libman.

Up next, Illinois State is set to hit the road to face Eastern on Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. for a single game series. The Redbirds then travel to Southern Illinois on Friday to begin Missouri Valley Conference play against a nationally ranked Salukis ball club.