Aces drop series opener to Illinois State


The University of Evansville baseball team’s bid for a top four spot in the upcoming Missouri Valley Conference tournament took a hit Thursday night, as the Aces dropped their series opener to Illinois State, 11-2 at Duffy Bass Field.

Junior right-hand pitcher Adam Lukas (5-5) made his first start in two weeks and got through the first two frames unscathed. However, the third inning would see the Redbirds put a pair on John Rave’s three-run shot to center. ISU would tack on another in fourth frame, making it 4-0 Redbirds. Lukas would give way to junior left-hander Nathan Croner in the fifth. For the day, Lukas gave up four runs on five hits, while striking out a pair.

After five innings of struggle at the plate, the Aces’ bats come to life in the sixth, loading up the bases on Illinois State starter Brent Headrick. Then, senior left fielder Matthew Jones would deliver a clutch two-strike single up the middle, plating both senior outfielder Nate Reeder and junior shortstop Craig Shepherd, halving the deficit to 4-2.

Croner would pitch a pair of shutout frames, but in the bottom of the seventh, the Redbirds tag the southpaw for six runs, and the UE offense couldn’t respond.

The loss drops Evansville to 23-26 overall and 10-9 in Missouri Valley Conference play. The victory moves the first place Redbirds to 31-21 overall and 13-6 in league play.

Game two of the series is Friday at 5 p.m. Central Time back at Illinois State’s Duffy Bass Park.