PEORIA — Hailing from Chillicothe just 20 minutes up the Illinois River from Peoria Chiefs Stadium, Illinois State senior Chris Razo was eager to pitch well for a group of 25 family members Friday.
Razo’s seven-hit shutout in a 4-0 Missouri Valley Conference victory over Bradley could hardly be viewed as a surprise. The right-hander has been nothing short of spectacular recently regardless of the zip code.
“That’s what he’s been doing for us since we put him back in rotation,” marveled ISU coach Mark Kingston. “He’s been pitching so well you expect him to give you a zero every inning. We’re lucky to have him pitching Friday night (to open MVC series).”
Razo (5-0) lowered his ERA to 1.10 in six starts over 41 innings since being shifted from closer back to his starting role of 2012.
“I knew coming out I wanted to perform well close to home,” said Razo. “I was just throwing strikes.”
Razo struck out nine and walked two in a 139-pitch performance that sent ISU (25-16, 7-3) to its sixth straight win and 11th in the past 12 games.
“Stamina was something I worked on in the off season,” Razo said. “I’m a senior. They knew I wanted to finish it. It sets the tone for entire weekend.”
Razo pitched around leadoff singles in the second, third and fourth innings. Bradley (14-23, 1-12) loaded the bases with two outs in the third before Razo retired Greg Partyka on a ground out.
Braves’ pitcher David Koll (1-6) set down the first nine ISU batters he faced.
The Redbirds broke through for a run on singles by Brett Kay, Chad Hinshaw and Eric Aguilera in the fourth. Zac Johnson’s two-run fifth-inning single brought home Sean Beesley and Kay for a 3-0 ISU lead.
“He (Koll) did a good job locating his off speed pitches,” said Johnson. “We did a good job after the first time through. He was not quite as sharp.”
Paul DeJong walked and scored on a Kay single for ISU’s final run in the seventh. Kay had three of the Redbirds’ eight hits.
The series continues with a 2 p.m. game Saturday.