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ISU Baseball Weekend Recap: High powered offense gives Birds series win over Arkansas State

Written by on February 27, 2023

Images courtesy of Illinois State Baseball

NORMAL, Ill – After dropping a tough extra inning loss to SIUE on Tuesday, the Illinois State Redbird baseball team headed too Arkansas to play Arkansas State for a three game weekend series.

The Redbirds ended up winning two of three in Arkansas to make their record 4-3 on the season. The series was highlighted with high powered offensive performances as well as a couple of Redbird pitchers dazzling on the mound.

GAME ONE: SALATA TOSSES GEM HELPING LEAD TO THE WIN; BIRDS WIN 6-2

As it was a week ago, Fridays game ended up being all about senior pitcher Derek Salata. Salata shined in the Redbirds win pitching six innings with 12 strikeouts and only one run given up. Salata moves to 2-0 on the season with an ERA of 0.90.

Piggybacking Salata, was fourth-year junior Elijah Dale. Dale pitched four innings for the Redbirds on last Sunday against Austin Peay and he seems to be becoming one of the more trustworthy pitchers out of the bullpen for the Birds.

Dale ended up saving the game on Friday pitching three inning, striking out five and only giving up one hit and one run.

The Redbirds ended up winning 6-2 on an offensive attack from a couple of Redbird hitters.

The Redbirds got their offense going on an RBI triple from Auggie Rasmussen in the 2nd inning. In the 3rd inning, Adrian Flores continued to have a hot hitting bat driving in Greg Nichols to make the game 2-0.

The bats went silent for a couple innings until Daniel Pacella hit his second home run of the year. The freshman, Pacella has been one of the Redbirds best hitters so far early in the season as he has been an RBI machine.

In the 9th, the Redbirds were able to get more comfortable from a bat off the bench. Freshman, Luke Lawrence came off the bench and hit a two-RBI single in his first collegiate at-bat.

GAME TWO: RASMUSSEN HITS GO-AHEAD HOME RUN; BIRDS WIN 12-8; BIRDS CLINCH SERIES

On Saturday, both offenses were clicking in Jonesboro, Ark. The Redbirds and Red Wolves went toe to toe in what ended in a 12-8 ballgame.

On the pitching side, Tyrelle Chadwick got the start for the Birds. The freshman pitched 2 innings striking out three while giving up three runs. Going to the bullpen early, Jayson Hibbard and Cameron Mabee came in after Chadwick and kept the Redbirds in the game.

Erik Kubiatowicz came in for 2.2 flawless innings of work where he struck out three and did not give up a hit. After Kubiatowicz, the Redbirds went to senior Jared Hart for the save. Hart went two innings striking out three. 

The Birds got to the win offensively from an attack from just about every player in the starting nine.

The Birds were down 4-3 in the 3rd when Flores came through with an RBI single. Later that inning, the Birds would take the lead off a wild pitch that would score Rasmussen.

The Red Wolves would retake a 6-5 lead in the 5th inning, but the Redbirds would later answer back. A passed ball would score JP Gauthier to tie the game and then Auggie Rasmussen would hit a go-ahead home run over the right field wall to make the game 8-6.

Rasmussen’s home run ended up being the game winning for the Redbirds as they never faltered their lead. The Birds would get some cushion in the ninth inning off RBI hits from Nichols and Shay Kubo.

GAME THREE: REDBIRDS COME UP SHORT OF SERIES SWEEP; RED WOLVES WIN 14-10

In what felt like a carbon copy of Saturday, a back and fort offensive battle ended up not going the Redbirds way. The Redbirds fell short to Arkansas State of a series sweep losing Sunday, 14-10.

Sean Sinisko got the start for the Birds and was chased by the Red Wolves early. Sinisko gave up five earned runs while striking out five. 

Pitchers Joey Wilmoth and Ryan Borberg tried to limit the damage but the Red Wolves continued to hit the ball hard. Wilmoth went 0.2 innings striking out two and giving up five. Borberg went 1.2 giving up two runs and striking out three.

Justin Schubert and Hibbard had good showings on the mound later in the game. Schubert went 0.2 innings striking out two. Meanwhile, Hibbard went 1.0 striking out one while giving up zero hits and walks.

On offense, the Redbirds answered back to a 2-0 deficit in the 2nd inning off RBIs from Pacella and Blake Stenger. Stenger made his first start for the Redbirds on Sunday and got things going when he hit a game tying RBI double.

In the 5th the Birds came back from a three run deficit off RBIs from multiple players. Flores got things going on an RBI double. Rasmussen then doubled to drive in two. Luke Cheng rounded out the inning with an RBI of his own to retake a 7-6 lead.

In the later half of the 5th, the Red Wolves put up a four spot of their own to retake the lead.

The Redbirds tried to crawl back in the 7th inning when Connor Olson hit a three-RBI double to pull themselves within one run. After the double, the Birds could not put up anymore runs which is ultimately why they fell short.

WEEKEND OUTLOOK

Even though a sweep would have been really nice for the Redbirds, it is a positive sign for the Redbirds that they have started the year with two series wins. Plenty of players have already showed up as key players for the Redbirds success for this season.

Salata has looked simply amazing to start the year. Two great starts to start the season proves that he will continue to be the Friday pitcher the Redbirds can rely on throughout the season.

In the bullpen, two players have emerged as early stars for this Redbird team. In two appearances, Dale has already pitched seven innings to go along with 13 strikeouts. Kubiatowicz has started the year on fire with three appearances where he has yet to give up a run or a hit. 

The entire Redbird offense has been all but in synch early this season, but three players have stood above the rest. Flores, Pacella and Nichols have been hitting machines early on to start the year.

Flores is currently hitting at a clip of .550 on the season. He currently has 11 total hits to go along with six RBIs and a home run.

Pacella looks to be the freshman prospect that he was hyped up to be. Pacella has hit for an average of .308 while hitting two huge home runs to go along with seven RBIs. He is also only striking out in 30% of his ABs which is incredible for a player who is just seeing college pitching for the first time.

Finally, Nichols has done extremely well in the three hole for the Birds. Nichols is currently batting .379 on the season to go along with one home run and six RBIs.

Next up for the Redbirds, they will travel to Fayetteville, Ark. where they will take on the number nine nationally ranked Arkansas Razorbacks on Wednesday at 3 p.m.