NORMAL, Ill. (WFIE) - Dominating at the plate, Mark Shallenberger led the way for the Aces offense as Evansville fell in a pair of narrow defeats in a doubleheader Saturday at Duffy Bass Field in Normal, Ill.
”Tough day for us, especially after such a well-played game last night,” said Aces head baseball coach Wes Carroll. “We competed, but couldn’t get a win in either game. Big day tomorrow to salvage a split. Going to need some people to step up.”
Shallenberger went six-for-eight at the plate, recording 11 total bases and five RBI on the afternoon. Tanner Craig’s day was not far off of Shallenberger’s as the Austin, Ind. native went four-for-seven in the Saturday twin-bill.
Game One: Illinois State 6, Evansville 3
Illinois State struck early in the first game on Saturday after rain delayed the start of the game by an hour. The Redbirds tallied four runs inside the first three innings, a run total Evansville attempted to overcome, but in the end, could not.
The Aces looked to claw back into the contest, recording single runs in the fourth and sixth innings to halve the Redbirds advantage. In the fourth, Craig drove a single into left that scored Troy Beilsmith. Later, in the sixth inning, Shallenberger mirrored Craig, sending a single to center, scoring Danny Borgstrom.
With Evansville looking to head into the seventh with just a two-run deficit, Illinois State manufactured two more runs in the sixth, upping its lead back to four at 6-2. Evansville did not go away quietly, which proved to be a theme for the day, as Beilsmith notched his first triple of the season to score Evan Kahre, but the Aces could not muster any more runs in the 6-3 loss.
Caleb Reinhardt was credited with the loss in game one, pitching 5.2 innings, allowing six runs and striking-out three.
Game Two: Illinois State 8, Evansville 7
Saturday’s second contest unfolded similarly to the first game of the day as Illinois State captured a 5-0 lead after the third inning. Unlike the earlier contest, Evansville’s offense exploded in the fourth and fifth innings.
The Aces got on the board in the fourth on an RBI double by Shallenberger, scoring Craig. In the fifth, Evansville put a pair of runners on and capitalized on it as Kenton Crews scored on a passed ball. Simon Scherry then doubled to left, scoring Beilsmith and making it a two-run game. After Borgstrom joined Scherry on the base-path, Shallenberger delivered in a big way as the St. Louis native blasted a three-run shot to right center, handing Evansville its first lead of the day.
As was true much of the day, each Evansville effort was matched by the Redbirds. Illinois State retook the lead in the bottom half of the fifth with two RBI singles and solidified its lead with a solo home run in the seventh.
In the ninth, the Aces continued to showcase their resiliency as Craig tallied his second RBI of the day, sending Scherry home. With two outs, Brent Widder drew a walk, putting the go-ahead run on first, but Illinois State got a fly out to secure the 8-7 win.
Jake McMahill made the start on the mound for Evansville, going three innings, allowing five runs, but did not receive a decision after the Aces went in front in the fifth. Eric Roberts was credited with his first loss of the season, going 2.0 innings, and allowing a pair of runs.
Aiding Evansville down the stretch, Drew Dominik came in and continued his strong spring, pitching 1.2 innings, allowing just one hit and recording a strikeout.
Evansville and Illinois State close-out their four-game series on Sunday at 1 PM in Normal, Ill.