NORMAL, illustrated – Illinois State baseball is set to host Saint Louis in a Friday-Saturday-Sunday series at Duffy Bass Field. Friday’s game has been moved up to 3:00 pm CT. The Friday and Sunday games are on ESPN3.
Illinois State (8-8, 0-0 MVC; 42nd in RPI) vs Saint Louis (11-8, 0-0 Atlantic 10; 298thth in RPI)
Saint Louis went 17-31 in 2021, going 9-19 at home and 8-12 on the road. SLU is 11-8 in 2022, winning four-straight games. Common opponents for Saint Louis and Illinois State in 2022 include Missouri State, SIUE and Southern Illinois.
Opponents are hitting .302 off of SLU (SLU is hitting .260) while outscoring SLU, 129-110. The Redbirds and Billikens have met 62 times previously, with Illinois State up 40-22. The first game of the series was played in 1936. The 3/28/17 meeting saw ISU win 2-1 over Saint Louis at Duffy Bass Field. Illinois State had three student-athletes who would be drafted on their roster that year: Owen Miller (3rd Rd-2018), Joe Aeils (14th Rd-2019), John Rave (5th Rd-2019.)
2-0 TO START AT HOME
Third-year sophomore Ryan Cermak (x2) and fifth-year senior Nick Gile homered as the Redbirds won, 9-5, over future MVC member UIC on 3/23. Fifth year senior Colin Wyman retired all nine batters he faced to earn the win.
Illinois State edged previously undefeated and 19th-ranked Purdue, 4-3, in 11 innings on 3/17. First year freshman JT Sokolove scored the walk-off run on a wild pitch. Illinois State also won its 2021 home opener on a walk-off in extra innings (win 2-1 over Western Illinois in 10 innings). The ‘Birds have won three-straight home openers.
FLIRTING WITH A NO-NO (MVC PITCHER OF THE WEEK)
Illinois State fourth-year junior Derek Salata took a no-hitter into the 7th inning in Illinois State’s 4-3 win over 19th-ranked Purdue on Thursday. Salata required just 84 pitches to complete seven innings. He allowed just one hit and pair of walks while striking out five and not allowing an earned run. Purdue entered the series as the country’s lone unbeaten team, averaging 7.7 runs per game and hitting .283. Illinois State has not had a no-hitter since 1987.
KRAUSE RETURNS FROM CANCER
Third-year freshman Trey Krause completed his 25-month journey to return to the baseball field after being diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma in February 2020 as he made his first collegiate appearance against UT-Martin on March 8. Krause pitched one inning, striking out the first batter he faced.
SOOOO… WHICH ONE IS IT?
ISU’s defense collapsed in the series vs. Purdue allowing five unearned runs and making 10 errors over three games. ISU had made just seven errors and allowed zero unearned runs in the previous 12 games.
Fielding % in first 12 games: .984, (7 E)
Fielding % vs Purdue: .926 (10 E, 5 by catchers)
Fielding against UIC: 13 strikeouts, no errors
POTENTIALLY TO MVC RECORD
Illinois State pitchers struck out an astounding 23 batters against Murray State on 3/10. The highest known mark for a single game in the MVC (outside of ISU’s 23) is 21. The mark is confirmed to be more than all of the current MVC members except Valpo and SIU. Recent MVC members Wichita State and Creighton also have not met the 23-strikeout plateau.
TOP 2 TAKEDOWN
Illinois State took down second-ranked Arkansas to open the 2022 campaign by a 3-2 score. Arkansas had not previously lost a home or season opener since 1994. The 11 runs the Razorbacks scored were tied for the fewest plated by an SEC team and tied for the third-fewest scored by a top-25 (D1Baseball top-25).
The ‘Birds were competitive all series, outhitting the Razorbacks in game two and trailing by a run in the 8th inning of game three.
Illinois State is no stranger to the national stage, upending #1 Vanderbilt and #7 Louisville in 2019 as the team made the program’s first NCAA Regional final. Likewise, ISU is no stranger to success in Fayetteville as the 2020 team knocked off the 13th-ranked Razorbacks, 8-7.
TOUGH TESTS IN 2022
Illinois State is scheduled to play six games against preseason ranked opponents (three at No. 2 Arkansas, three vs No. 22 Dallas Baptist). Purdue has also exceeded expectations in 2022, earning a No. 19 ranking from Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and was bumped up to 17th after taking two-of-three from ISU. Illinois State is also scheduled to play a program-record 16 games against Power Five schools, including 10 contests against the Big Ten. 2022 marks the first time ISU has opened against a Power Five since 2004 (win at Louisville). 2022 marks the first time ISU has ever opened against a ranked opponent.
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