Illinois State Scores Late to Top Tigers 7-4
Feb. 16, 2013
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Erik Schoenrock struck out 10 in five innings, but Illinois State (2-0) scored seven runs in last four innings to top Memphis (0-2) 7-4 on Saturday at FedExPark.
The Memphis southpaw got off to a blistering start as he fanned the first two batters he faced. Zac Johnson reached on a hard-hit single that got past the Memphis infield and he stole second and advanced to third on an errant throw to second on the steal attempt. A walk put runners on the corners, but Schoenrock forced a fly out to end the inning.
Colton Simbeck sparked the Memphis offense in the second inning as he leadoff the frame with a double off the wall in left-center. Carter White sent a liner up the middle, but Simbeck was unable to advance to third on the play. Nate Rupiper hit next and smoked a triple down the right field line to score two runs. It was Rupiper’s first career extra-base hit and his second and third career RBI.
Schoenrock struck out three in third, but a leadoff walk nearly came back to hurt the junior pitcher. With one out, Joe Kelch stole second and advanced to third on the errant throw to second. A two-out walk put runners on the corners, but Schoenrock recorded his seventh strikeout of the afternoon to end the inning unscathed.
The Tigers missed opportunities in the third, fourth and fifth innings as the club left six runners on in the three innings. After stranding a runner at third in the third inning, the U of M had the bases loaded with one out in the fourth, but a double play ended that scoring threat. In the fifth, Memphis moved runners to second and third with two outs, but a pop out got the Redbirds out of the inning.
After Schoenrock retired seven-straight batters, four via strikeout, Illinois State rallied for three runs to force the Tigers to go to the bullpen. Back-to-back singles put runners on the corners with nobody out and a sacrifice fly cut the Memphis lead in half, 2-1. Kyle Stanton gave the Redbirds a 3-2 lead with a two-run home run to left field. Clayton Gant entered the game after a Tiger error and retired both hitters he faced to keep Memphis within striking distance at 3-2.
The Tigers knotted the score in the bottom half of the inning on a Zach Willis sacrifice fly. Down 0-2 in the count, Rupiper worked a one-out walk and Ford Wilson was hit by a pitch to put two on with one out. Rupiper and Wilson executed the double steal to move into scoring position and Willis drove in Rupiper with the sacrifice fly to tie the game at 3-3.
Illinois State regained the lead in the top of the seventh with the help of a passed ball. Chad Hinshaw laced a one-out double to the leftfield corner and moved to third on a groundout back to the mound. With two outs, Memphis summoned freshman Colin Lee from the bullpen and the first pitch he threw went past the Tiger catcher and Hinshaw scored on the passed ball to give ISU the 4-3 lead.
A leadoff single followed by two walks loaded the bases for the Redbirds in the eighth. After using two pitchers out of the bullpen, Memphis went to the bullpen again with Jonathan Van Eaton. A passed ball allowed Illinois State to take a 5-3 lead, but Van Eaton shut the door with two strikeouts and a groundout.
The Redbirds hit their second, two-run home run of the afternoon to grab the 7-3 advantage in the top of the ninth. Brett Kay took a one-out walk and Johnson followed with the two-run shot to right field.
The Tigers scratched across a run in the ninth to cut the lead to 7-4, but couldn’t get an additional run as ISU closer Chris Razo got the one-out save for his second of the season. Willis worked a one out walk and moved to third on a single by Tucker Tubbs. Drew Griffin recorded his third hit of the afternoon with a double to left field to make the score 7-4, but Razo struck out the next Tiger batter to end the game.
Griffin paced the Memphis offense with a 3-for-5 effort and an RBI. The Tigers out-hit the Redbirds 8-7 on the game, but committed three errors in addition to two passed balls.
The Tigers will look to salvage a game in the series on Sunday with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m. at FedExPark.
Game Notes – LF Jake Little made his first career start in Saturday’s game. DH Nate Rupiper and RF Colton Simbeck made their first starts of the season today. For the second-straight game, just three players in the lineup are upperclassmen … Nate Rupiper registered his first career extra-base hit with a triple in the second inning. He drove in two on the play; doubling his career RBI total (1) … Erik Schoenrock recorded 10 strikeouts, a career high bettering his total of six at Houston (5/18/12) and UL Monroe (3/7/12).