Illinois State used three big innings to run away from the Western Illinois Leathernecks on Tuesday evening, defeating the in-state rivals 8-4 at Alfred D. Boyer Stadium.
Owen Miller went 4-for-5 at the plate while John Rave was 2-for-3. The pair combined for five of the team's eight runs, as Derek Parola also scored twice .Rave drove in three in the game, as Noah Sadler had two RBI's in the contest.
Illinois State (9-11 overall) struck in the contest during the top of the third inning. Parola, Rave, and Miller each reached base – on a hit, walk, and hit – to load the bases. The next three batters proceeded to each drive in a run, Jordan Libman with an RBI single, Collin Braithwaite on a sacrifice fly, and Sadler on a fielder's choice.
Western Illinois (3-15 overall) answered with two runs in the bottom of the fourth and two more in the bottom of the fifth to push ahead to a 4-3 lead.
Illinois State rallied, as Rave and Miller opened the inning with back-to-back doubles, before Sadler drove in Miller two batters later with a single up the middle, and the Redbirds reclaimed the lead at 5-4.
The lead was pushed out of reach an inning later when Nick Zouras reached on a single and Parola on an error, before Rave crushed a 1-0 pitch over the wall in right center field for his fourth home run of the season, providing the final insurance runs for the Redbirds in the game.
The final three innings were played to a scoreless draw, as ISU's four-run advantage after six innings was able to hold up in the victory.
Starting pitcher Matt Walker picked up the win, pitching five innings in the contest. He struck out six batters while allowing two earned runs, five hits and just one walk. Each of Illinois State's relief pitchers had at least one strikeout, as Trevor Cross had three strikeouts in two innings, Brady Huffman one strikeout in an inning of work, while Jeff Lindgren closed out the game with two strikeouts in an inning of work.
Illinois State returns to action on Friday, March 30, when the squad hosts Southern Illinois in each squad's Missouri Valley Conference opener.