Illinois State did something Wednesday it has never done against the Missouri baseball team: win.
The Redbirds beat the Tigers 5-2 in 11 innings at Taylor Stadium, notching their first win in five tries against Missouri (15-4-1).
“Any time you beat a Big 12 team in their place it’s a great win,” Redbirds coach Jim Brownlee said. “To come in here and play the way we did, with no fear, is a great win for our team.”
Despite the loss, Missouri’s Nathan Culp was strong on the mound, allowing no runs through seven innings. Culp, who left the game with two outs in the eighth, had not pitched more than six innings this year.
“It’s the best I’ve felt since I’ve been out,” Culp said.
With two outs in the eighth, Missouri coach Tim Jamieson went to the mound to talk to Culp, but left him in to face Illinois State’s home run and RBI leader, Jeremy Pickrel.
Culp retired Pickrel the first three times he faced him, but in the eighth Pickrel hit a two-run home run to center to tie the game.
“(Jamieson) said ‘don’t let this guy burn us,’” Culp said. “He said ‘keep it low and don’t let him hit anything out of the park.’”
After two more scoreless innings, the Redbirds (4-6) scored three runs in the 11th to get the win.
With one out, Nate Whitney hit a high-bouncing grounder through the middle of the drawn in infield to score Chris Shepherd and Greg Blaesing. Matt Standish then hit a single to score Whitney from second.
“When you get (Pickrel) going everybody else picks up,” Brownlee said. “You got to have him going because we’re not a great offensive team.”
Although Illinois State outhit the Tigers 13-3, Missouri led the game 2-0 through seven innings because of a two-run Lee Laskowski home run in the fourth.
Laskowski’s shot over the bullpen in left field was his fourth this year and drove in Cody Ehlers to tie Laskowski for third on the team with 14 RBIs.
With the exception of the fourth, Illinois State pitching stopped the Tigers from threatening most of the game.
Todd Stein started for the Redbirds and allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings. Kyle Zaleski entered for Illinois State in the eighth and allowed one hit and struck out four to get the win.
“Whenever you play a mid-week game early in the year like this, you’re going to have to beat some good pitching, because they’re going to throw everybody at you,” Jamieson said.
The loss ended a four-game winning streak for Missouri that included the title in the Easton/USA Challenge in Millington, Tenn., last weekend.
“You always hate to lose, especially at home,” Jamieson said. “I think we played solid, we just made too many little mistakes.”