Zach Plesac pitching gem helps Ball State hand No. 27 Illinois its first loss
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- For the second consecutive game with 27th-ranked Illinois, Ball State was in a pitchers' duel, but this time the Cardinals got the better part of the Illini and tallied a 2-1 win.
Zach Plesac started the game on the mound and pitched 7.1 innings, allowing only three hits and one run to lead the Cardinals. David Current was credited with the victory after pitching one third of an inning and B.J. Butler closed out the game with one inning pitched and one strike out. Butler would retire three consecutive Illinois’ batters in the ninth on a blooping liner to shortstop, a strike out swinging and a grounder to Butler.
The pitching staff would limit Illinois to four hits and one run, which was a solo homer in the third inning over the right field wall.
Ball State’s eighth inning was the key to the victory when two runners crossed the plate for the Cardinals.
With one out, Ryan Spaulding’s bloop single to right field started the rally. Elbert Devarie singled down the left field line and moved Spaulding to third. The hits were the first of the weekend for both Spaulding and Devarie. Alex Call stepped to the plate and roped a line drive single to center field that got away from the Illinois centerfielder and scored Spaulding to tie the game at 1-1. The hit completed a 4-for-4 day for Call with one run-batted-in.
With runners on first and second, Jarett Rindfleisch was intentionally walked to load the bases. A passed ball scored Devarie and the 2-1 advantage would be all Ball State needed to upset the nationally ranked Illini.
Illinois threatened in the sixth inning but a diving catch by Call on a rocket line drive ended the inning. With two outs in the top of the eighth, Illinois loaded the bases but Current forced a ground out to shortstop Alex Maloney and the inning ended.
With the win, Ball State improved to 5-3 on the season, while Illinois was dealt its first loss of the year and fell to 7-1-1.