The University of Evansville baseball team thought they would live another day as Cody Fick’s two-out ball to deep left field sailed towards the wall in the bottom of the 11th inning with a runner on and the Aces down, 4-3. However the ball hooked foul, missing a walk-off home run by just feet. Fick would eventually reach, but Illinois State would retire the final out, knocking Evansville out of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament and ending the Aces’ season with a 28-25 record.
Both squads scored a run in the first inning, as the Redbirds tallied a run on Chad Hinshaw’s single and Tyler McNeely’s sacrifice fly. Evansville scored when Trentt Copeland led off with a hit by pitch, advanced to third on a walk and hit by pitch, and scored when starter Dan Savas walked Ryan Oesterle.
Illinois State took the lead in the third when starter Kyle Lloyd recorded two straight walks, a single to Ryan Court, and then with bases loaded walked and hit a batter, scoring two.
The Aces got one back in the fifth sparked by Greg Wallace’s leadoff triple off the top of the wall in right centerfield. Senior Jared Baehl plated Wallace on a ground out to shortstop, making the score 3-2.
In the seventh, Evansville tied it up, 3-3, when Fick belted a double to right-center and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Wallace knocked him home on a sacrifice fly to centerfield.
That is where the scored stayed until the top of the 11th inning when Zach Amrein lined a single through the right side off reliever Peter Spear. Spear walked Hinshaw and David Fallon singled to load the bases. Kevin Tokarski came through with a sacrifice fly for the Redbirds, scoring Amrein, the winning run.
Spear (0-1) took the loss for UE, throwing two thirds of an inning and giving up two hits, two walks, and a run. Tyler Miller recorded the final out, a strikeout, in the 11th.
Lloyd hurled two and two thirds innings, allowing three runs, three hits, five walks, and struck out three, before freshman Ryan Billo came out of the bullpen. Billo had his best outing of the season, throwing seven and a third innings, allowing no runs, just one hit, two walks, and struck out five. Billo retired the first 12 batters he faced in order and did not allow a runner past second base.
Kenny Long (4-1) earned the win for Illinois State, throwing the final three and two thirds innings.
In the contest, Evansville recorded six hits, and had a number of scoring opportunities with runners in scoring position. However, the Aces left 13 on base, including 10 in scoring position.
Sophomore Chris Pearson led UE with two hits, while Copeland, Fick, Wallace, and Oesterle each had one.