TERRE HAUTE, Ind. –  The visiting University of Evansville baseball team exploded for six runs on three home runs in the second inning on Sunday, and then the Purple Aces held off the nationally-ranked Indiana State Sycamores, 7-6, at Bob Warn Field in Terre Haute, Indiana.
“What a gritty effort in all three facets to salvage a game on the weekend today,” said UE head coach Wes Carroll.  “I thought all three pitchers really battled today and gave us everything they had.  I thought Nick Smith, Shane Harris and Jakob Meyer were outstanding.
“Offensively, I thought that we had a pretty good plan today at the plate.  We are a pretty talented club, and I know that we dropped the last two games, but I thought that our guys really showed what they are made of today in a battle against a very good Indiana State team.”
After Indiana State rallied for two two-out runs in the bottom of the first inning to grab an early 2-0 lead, Evansville exploded for six runs off of Indiana State starter Luke Hayden (6-2) to take a lead it would never lose.  Junior outfielder Ty Rumsey opened UE’s six-run frame with a no-doubt three-run home run to deep right field to give UE a 3-2 lead.
Fellow junior outfielder Harrison Taubert followed two batters later with a solo home run to left field to push the UE lead to 4-2.  Then, senior designated hitter Kip Fougerousse crushed a two-run home run to left-center field to give Evansville a 6-2 cushion.
UE starter Nick Smith and senior reliever Shane Harris (6-6) kept Indiana State off the scoreboard until the sixth inning, when Indiana State got a solo home run from shortstop Randal Diaz to trim UE’s lead to 6-3.  ISU would then add a two-run home run from third baseman Mike Sears in the seventh inning to get back within a run at 6-5.  UE senior reliever Jakob Meyer would work a scoreless eighth inning, though, and Evansville would tack on an insurance run with a two-out rally in the ninth inning to extend the lead to 7-5.
In the ninth inning, graduate outfielder Mark Shallenberger laid down a two-out bunt against an infield shift by Indiana State to begin the rally, and extend his hitting streak to 12 games.  Fougerousse then worked an eight-pitch walk to put two runners on base, before graduate third baseman Brent Widder laced a double over the third base bag and into the left-field corner to score Shallenberger and give UE a 7-5 lead.
The insurance run would be needed, as Indiana State rallied for a run in the bottom of the ninth inning against Meyer.  But, Meyer struck out Indiana State second baseman Josue Urdaneta with the tying run at second base to record a nine-out save for his fourth save of the season.
Fougerousse, Rumsey and Taubert all had two-hit days to pace the Evansville offense on Sunday.  Harris earned the victory by holding Indiana State to a single run on four hits and a walk in 3.2 innings of work with three strikeouts.
With the victory, Evansville improved to 29-22 overall and 15-9 in the Missouri Valley Conference, as the Purple Aces moved into a tie with UIC for second-place in the MVC standings.  Indiana State, meanwhile, dropped to 36-11 overall and 19-5 in the Missouri Valley Conference with the loss.  Evansville will host UIC in a three-game series next weekend beginning on Thursday, with the winner of the series capturing the No. 2 seed in the upcoming MVC Tournament to be held in Evansville from May 21-25.  But, first, Evansville will wrap up non-conference play on Tuesday night, as the Purple Aces will travel south to Clarksville, Tennessee to battle the Austin Peay State Governors.  First-pitch on Tuesday night is set for 6 p.m. in a game that can be seen live on ESPN+.