Redbird Baseball Starts Season With A Win At Arkansas
Written by Tim Zalabak on February 22, 2022
Image courtesy of Illinois State Athletics
Fayetteville, Ark.- The Illinois State University Baseball team traveled to Fayetteville Arkansas to open their season against the number two ranked Razorbacks. Finishing at 1-3 for the weekend gives head coach Steve Holm and his squad high hopes for the rest of the 2022 campaign.
The Redbirds began with a thrilling 3-2 win over the Razorbacks on Friday, Feb. 18. Arkansas Loses their home opener for the first time since 1994.
Game one for the Redbirds featured 5 different pitchers silencing the Razorbacks bats with sophomore Jordan Lussier leading the charge on the mound.
Ryan Cermak Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year went 3-3 in game one. Redshirt senior Aidan Huggins doubled down the third baseline, scoring what would be the winning run for the Redbirds in the top of the seventh inning.
“You play a team that’s number 2 in the country [Arkansas], and you’re in all three ball games, we haven’t gotten to practice outside. It’s a testament to our guys. We made it extremely tough for Arkansas to take 2-3 from us,” Head Coach Steve Holm commented.
Game two was taken by the University of Arkansas 5-0 as starter Hagen Smith quieted the bats of Illinois State for 6 innings. A notable performance from senior infielder Nick Gile, going 3-3 with a double off the right-center wall.
Taking the rubber game would have been the perfect end to an already positive weekend for the Redbirds.
Illinois State scores the game’s first run in the top of the second inning. Nick Gile grounded into a fielder’s choice that scored Adrian Flores, the sophomore catcher.
The Razorbacks fought back in the fourth and fifth innings, scoring two runs with two outs in the fifth. The Redbirds did not go out easily as Ryan Cermak blasts a home run over the left-field wall to bring the Birds within one in the top of the eighth.
Ultimately, The Razorbacks take game three, scoring the fourth run from a double off the bat of Jaylen Battles, Arkansas shortstop. The 4-2 loss in the third game gave the Redbirds some things to work on, but a lot to be happy about.
“We’ll take a lot from this series. Win and learn. We learned a few things about us, and we were able to provide them [Arkansas] with a similar experience they provided us,” said Holm.
The Redbirds made their mark, keeping the University of Arkansas to a mere 11 runs in the series. This is the lowest a team has kept the razorbacks in runs in an opening series since 1994. Coach Holm speaks on the difference maker thus far.
[Assistant coach Derek Parola] “has done a great job. I don’t think we made too many mistakes at all in the infield – we pitched well, and I thought the defense was outstanding,” Coach Holm Explains.
Now standing at a record of 1-3 on the weekend, the Redbirds move to their next series with more confidence than ever. Competing with a national contender for three games shows that Illinois State has made the adjustments needed to have a historic season.