Illinois State Sweeps Doubleheader From Army

J.T. Watkins

J.T. Watkins

March 17, 2012

Game One Box Score Get Acrobat Reader

Game Two Box Score Get Acrobat Reader

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - Matt Mirabal went 5-for-8 with two runs batted in and three runs scored, and Mike Hollenbeck was 4-for-7 with two RBI as Illinois State swept a doubleheader from Army on Saturday evening at Chain of Lakes Park.

Mirabal led the Redbirds (13-5) to a 7-5 victory in the first game, going 3-for-4 with two RBI and a pair of runs scored. Hollenbeck, meanwhile, helped ISU to a 6-5 win in the nightcap, collecting three hits and two RBI.

J.T. Watkins combined to go 5-for-8 with three runs batted in and three runs scored to pace Army (10-6). Zach Price finished the twinbill with three hits, two runs scored and one RBI. Cody Murtle and Harold Earls had hits in both ends of the doubleheader to help spur the Black Knights' offense.

Illinois State took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning in the opener as the Redbirds scored one run on four hits. Kevin Tokarski led off the frame with a triple that got past a diving Murtle in right field. Tokarski was cut down at the plate, however, on Ty Wiesemeyer's fielder's choice groundball to first. Wiesemeyer was then picked off first base, and it appeared that Army starter Logan Lee (1-1) might be able to escape the inning unscathed. But Mirabal, Kyle Stanton and Zac Johnson hit consecutive two-out singles to plate the game's first run.

After stranding Army runners at second and third in the top of the second, Illinois State struck for two more runs in the bottom half of that frame. Bryan Huff and Chad Hinshaw drew consecutive one-out walks, and Tokarski hit a bloop single to load the bases for ISU. After Wiesemeyer struck out for the second out of the inning, Mirabal lined a two-run single up the middle to push the Redbirds' lead to 3-0.

Army got on the board in the top of the third inning as the Black Knights plated one run on three hits, trimming their deficit to 3-1. Price ripped a one-out single, and Daniel Cortes followed with a base hit to put runners on first and second. Then, after Kevin McKague fouled out to first, Watkins laced an RBI single to left field to score Price.

Army rallied to tie the score in the top of the fifth inning, scoring two runs on three hits pull even at 3-3. Watkins began the uprising with a one-out single. He moved to second when Mark McCants walked, and both runners moved up a base on a balk. Murtle then singled to center field to plate Watkins, and Alex Jensen ripped an RBI single of his own to score McCants with the tying run.

Illinois State regained the lead in the bottom of the fifth, scoring three runs on three hits and two Army errors to assume a 6-3 advantage. Stanton and Johnson hit consecutive singles leading off the inning to put runners on first and third. After Hollenbeck struck out, David Fallon reached on a fielder's choice and Stanton scored from third. Huff then moved pinch-runner Eric Aguilera to second on a sacrifice bunt, and Hinshaw blasted a two-run double into the gap in left center field to score both Johnson and Aguilera.

Army got two of those runs back in the top of the sixth inning, pushing across a pair of unearned runs to trim Illinois State's lead to 6-5. Price singled leading off the frame and stole second. Cortes followed with a walk to put runners on first and second. The Illinois State catcher then threw the ball away trying to pick Cortes off first, allowing Price to score and Cortes to motor all the way to third base. Watkins drove home Cortes by grounding out to third.

Illinois State made it 7-5 in the bottom of the sixth as Mirabal doubled to left center field leading off the inning and scored on Stanton's RBI single up the middle.

Price led Army in the opener, going 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Watkins was 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI and one run scored, while Jensen went 2-for-3 and scored a run.

Mirabal, Stanton and Johnson each went 3-for-4 to lead the Redbirds offensively in the first game.

Justin Hauer (1-1) earned the win in relief for Illinois State. The righty reliever allowed two hits and one walk in 0.2 scoreless innings of work. Kenny Long earned a two-inning save.

Lee suffered his first loss of the season after giving up five runs (four earned) on nine hits and two walks in 4.1 innings. The senior lefty struck out six during his outing.

Illinois State jumped on top of Army, 5-0, in the top of the first inning in the nightcap. The Redbirds sent 11 men to the plate and scored five times on four hits, three walks and one hit batsman. The first seven ISU batters reached base safely during the five-run uprising.

Huff drew a leadoff walk, Wiesemeyer was hit by a pitch and Mirabal reached on an infield single to load the bases against Army starter Nick Dignacco (1-2). Huff then scampered home on a wild pitch to score the first run of the inning. Back-to-back walks to Stanton and Johnson forced in another run, and Hollenbeck's RBI single made it 3-0. Aguilera, who started the nightcap in right field, capped the Redbirds' first-inning rally with a two-run single.

Illinois State tacked on a single run in the top of the second inning to extend its lead to 6-0. Stanton reached on a fielder's choice and he scored all the way from first base on Hollenbeck's RBI double to left center field.

Dignacco, who finished with a career-high eight strikeouts, shut down the ISU bats over his next three innings of work. Taylor Goucher and Colin Briant each worked a scoreless frame to keep the Redbirds at bay and allow Army to stage a comeback.

The Black Knights got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth inning when Watkins smashed a solo home run over the fence in left field.

Army trimmed Illinois State's lead to 6-5 in the bottom of the sixth, scoring four runs on four hits and one Redbird error. McKague and Watkins hit consecutive singles to open the inning, and Connor Love drew a walk to load the bases with nobody out. Murtle then hit an infield single to score McKague from third. Watkins came around to plate the second run of the frame on the play when the ISU first baseman threw the ball away. Jensen drove Love home on another infield hit, and Price collected an RBI on a fielder's choice groundout to make it 6-5.

Army threatened to tie the score in the bottom of the seventh as the Black Knights advanced a runner to third base. Watkins led off with a single through the right side of the infield. Tyler Williams was then inserted as a pinch-runner and he advanced to second base on Love's sacrifice bunt. Williams took third on Murtle's groundout to second base, but Earls flew out to left field to end the game.

Dylan Craig (3-0) earned the win for Illinois State in the second game. He yielded four runs on five hits and four walks in five innings. Long tossed 1.2 innings of relief to pick up his second save of the night.

Watkins went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored to lead Army's eight-hit attack in the nightcap.

Army will fly back to West Point on Sunday, before hosting Quinnipiac in its home opener on Tuesday, March 20. First pitch from Doubleday Field is slated for 3 p.m.

Game Notes: Army falls to 0-2 all-time versus Illinois State ... the Black Knights wore their white uniforms with black caps for both games of tonight's doubleheader ... J.T. Watkins extended his hitting streak to 10 games ... he leads Army with eight multi-hit games this season ...Watkins' home run in the nightcap was his third of the season and eighth of his career ... Scott Lucado made his second appearance of the season in the opener ... Taylor Goucher made his second appearance of the year in the second game.

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