Redbirds Split Doubleheader At Arkansas State
Written by Tim Zalabak on March 8, 2022
Photo courtesy from goredbirds.com
NORMAL, Ill.–The Illinois State baseball team continued their road trip in Jonesboro, Arkansas against the Arkansas State Red Wolves this weekend. After taking three straight games from Western Carolina the following week, the Redbirds looked to test their skills in the Sun Belt Conference.
Illinois State jumped ahead early in game one with a two-run second inning. Greg Nichols stayed hot all weekend with timely hitting, scoring Justin Sabotnik with a single up the middle. The smart base running from Nick Gile put him on third and was scored by a sacrifice fly from Tyler Woltman.
Arkansas State responded with a late comeback in the bottom of the eighth. The Red Wolves tallied five runs with a base-clearing double off the bat of Ben Klutts.
Illinois State falls in game one with a final of 8-6. The Birds prepared for a doubleheader the next day as inclement weather was expected for Sunday.
Game two for the Redbirds featured a stellar performance from Illinois State relief pitcher Colin Wyman. Wyman pitched 5 scoreless innings with only 42 pitches.
The Redbirds showed signs of life in the fifth inning from the aggressive baserunning of Aidan Huggins and Connor Olson. The double steal forced an Arkansas State throwing error, bringing the game to within one.
The efficient effort from Wyman was not enough to hold off the Red Wolves as Arkansas State wins 2-1.
Game three was quiet until the Redbirds took control of the game with a five-run seventh inning. The loud bat of Jake McCaw smacked a two-run single up the middle, scoring two runs.
The third game of the series would not be complete without the defensive efforts of Illinois State shortstop, Luke Cheng. Cheng made multiple highlight-reel plays including an inning-ending back-handed stab deep in the hole to halt the Red Wolves momentum.
The Birds extended their lead further when Greg Nichols cleared the loaded bases with a double down the left-field line, extending the lead to six.
The Illinois State squad was able to exit Tomlinson Stadium on a high note with the 7-1 win. Going 1-3 on the weekend means there are still improvements to be made. The competitive games continue to strengthen the Birds for their return to Missouri Valley Conference play.
Illinois State now looks to March 8th for a one-game series against UT-Martin in Martin Tennessee.