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CARBONDALE — Central Catholic High School graduate John Rave had five hits, including his seventh home run of the year, as the Illinois State baseball team rolled past Southern Illinois 8-4 on Sunday at Itchy Jones Stadium.

Rave's five hits came in six plate appearances. He also delivered his 12th double of the year and drove in three runs.

Derek Parola and Aidan Huggins each added three hits to ISU's 16-hit attack.

The win gave ISU a sweep of their three-game weekend series with the Salukis and left them with a league-best 8-1 record in Missouri Valley Conference play. ISU is 25-15 overall.

ISU coach Steve Holm praised the Redbirds' pitching and defense in the sweep.

"Our starting pitching has been outstanding," Holm said. "They have given our offense a chance to lead within the first couple of frames. But at the same time, our defense has been pretty solid of late."

Starting pitcher Matt Walker (3-5) earned the mound victory after striking out nine batters in six innings. Walker gave up six hits, but neither of the two runs charged to him was earned.

Colton Johnson, the fourth Redbird pitcher, earned his first save of the season after striking out the final batter with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth to secure the win.

Rave's home run came with a man on in the third inning and erased a 1-0 SIU lead. The Redbirds added another run in the third when Parola scored on a wild pitch by Blake Begner, the Salukis' starting and losing pitcher.

Redbird catcher Nick Zouras, who had two hits, scored on a balk in the fourth inning before Rave's ground-rule double bounced over the right-center field fence to score Jack Butler and give ISU a 5-1 lead.

Jordan Libman, who also had two hits, singled home Huggins and Rave in the sixth to give ISU a 7-1 lead. Huggins scored on a Parola single in the seventh to give the Redbirds an 8-2 advantage.

Southern Illinois (17-19, 1-8) clawed its way back into the game with a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh and had the tying run at the plate in the ninth when Johnson's strikeout ended the threat.

The streak extended ISU's winning streak to four games. The Redbirds return to action at 5 p.m. Tuesday when they host Northern Illinois at Duffy Bass Field.

 

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