NORMAL — Saturday’s persistent rainfall certainly moistened the Illinois State baseball team, but it did not begin to lower the temperature of the red hot Redbirds.
Dan Savas hurled eight shutout innings and Chad Hinshaw drove in three runs to propel ISU to a school-record 12th straight victory, a 6-0 Missouri Valley Conference decision over Creighton at Duffy Bass Field.
“When big situations come up, everybody is doing their job,” said first baseman Kyle Stanton, who had three of ISU’s nine hits. “We feel a lot more confident than early in the season.”
The Redbirds moved to 31-16 and pushed their first-place MVC record to 11-3 with an eighth consecutive league victory.
“I thought our guys did a real good job overcoming some tough conditions,” ISU coach Mark Kingston said. “Savas set the tone by being outstanding on the mound.”
Savas (7-0) struck out eight, walked three and wriggled free from sticky situations in the fourth, sixth and eighth.
Creighton (24-13, 8-6) stranded fourth-inning runners at second and third base and loaded the bases in the sixth. Savas then deflected a sharply hit Reagan Fowler grounder to second baseman Paul DeJong, who tagged Alex Staehely for a rally killing force out.
“It actually hit off the bottom of my cleat,” said Savas. “It’s one of the few times I’ve seen that work to get an out. It was strange.”
David Suarez worked a perfect ninth inning to lower ISU’s ERA in MVC games to 2.55.
“When your pitching is doing that, you can try to figure out different ways to score runs,” Kingston said. “We were able to put some pressure on and finally started getting the big hit.”
The Redbirds broke through against Bluejays’ starter Nick Musec (1-5) in the third as Brock Stewart walked and came around to score on Hinshaw’s triple to right-center field.
ISU turned two Musec walks into fifth-inning runs when Hinshaw walked with the bases loaded to force in DeJong and Stewart came home on a Zac Johnson fielder’s choice.
Stewart’s single drove home Stanton and Mike Hollenbeck in the sixth. DeJong made it a three-run uprising by crossing the plate on a Hinshaw fielder’s choice.
The series finale is today at 1 p.m. After the game, ISU players and coaches will have their heads shaved in the culmination of a St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraiser to combat childhood cancer.