NORMAL — It was a rally with which the Illinois State baseball team could be satisfied.
Joe Aeilts had doubled and scored on a Joe Butler sacrifice fly to increase the Redbird lead over Northern Illinois to three and two were out with nary a runner on base.
Yet ISU persisted.
Five straight hits capped by a Derek Parola home run turned a one-run positive into a six-run outburst as the Redbirds rolled past the Huskies, 10-2, Tuesday in nonconference action at Duffy Bass Field.
“It’s go hard the whole time. You’ve got 27 outs,” said ISU coach Steve Holm, whose team only required 24. “We’re on them about running hard until the play’s over. That inning it showed up well for us.”
While hiking their record to 26-15, the Redbirds won their fifth straight game and are 13-2 in April.
“We’re hitting the crap out of the ball,” Parola said. “This is one of those games you can slip up on. You want to make sure you play with the intensity you have on the weekends (in Missouri Valley Conference play). We played with that intensity and it worked out.”
ISU’s second rally of the sixth inning featured singles from Tyson Hays, Jack Butler and Aidan Huggins and a two-run John Rave double before Parola blasted a 3-0 offering from Northern reliever Jack Phillips beyond the left-field wall.
“I didn’t even know it was 3-0,” said the Redbird second baseman of his third homer of the season. “If I knew, I probably wouldn’t have swung. But I’m glad I did.”
Northern (12-28) forged ahead in the first on a Brendan Joyce single and Dylan Lonteen’s RBI triple. ISU starter Brett Wicklund (4-2) allowed five baserunners over the first three innings and had to extricate himself from a bases-loaded jam in the third.
“He was bobbing and weaving the first couple. We weren’t sure how long he was going to go,” Holm said. “But vintage him. He settled back down, got his fastball back down in the zone and we started seeing ground balls again.”
Wicklund retired 10 of the final 11 batters he faced, struck out two and walked none over six innings.
“It was me realizing what I had been doing wasn’t working,” said Wicklund. “I told myself I’ve got to get the ball down. I had to make a little adjustment with the mentality and locate my pitches better.”
ISU’s bottom three in the batting order — Hays, Jack Butler and Huggins — were a combined 8 for 12 with six runs scored and four RBIs.
“Jack Butler is sneaking down in the eight hole hitting .300,” Holm said. “Our lineup has been very well balanced all year.”
Michael Sebby, Rhett Rapshus and Connor Peplow followed Wicklund with one inning of relief apiece. Northern starter Blake Walker (0-1) took the loss.