Luke Hayden goes distance as first-place ISU tops Redbirds

Apr. 21—Luke Hayden pitched a one-run, seven-inning game, backed by Grant Magill and Randal Diaz homers, as Indiana State beat host Illinois State 11-1 on Sunday at Duffy Bass Field, clinching the series for the Sycamores and keeping them atop the Missouri Valley Conference standings.

Magill connected on a two-run home run over the left field wall in the top of the second inning and Diaz followed two batters later with a solo shot in front of the batter's eye in center to stake the Sycamores (29-8, 12-3) to an early 3-0 lead, ISU sports information reported. Indiana State added five runs in the fifth with Joe Kido's two-run single the big hit in the frame, while Mike Sears added a two-run double in the sixth as the Sycamores scored early and often for the second consecutive game.

The early run support boosted Hayden (5-1) as the right-hander pitched around an unearned run in the bottom of the second in posting a career-high 11 strikeouts in his first complete game. Hayden pitched around runners on the bases throughout the contest, but allowed just one in scoring position after the third inning in a dominant performance. He finished allowing six hits and one walk in securing his fifth win of the year.

ISU maintained a two-game lead in the MVC standings over second-place Evansville (22-17, 10-5).

Magill posted three of Indiana State's 10 hits in the game, while Luis Hernandez added a two-hit contest as the Sycamores took advantage of 14 walks issued by the fourth-place Illinois State (20-17, 8-7) pitching staff to constantly provide pressure in the contest. Indiana State loaded the bases in the first, third, fifth, and seventh innings with Sears and Magill both driving in three runs apiece in the win.

The Sycamores clinched their 15th consecutive Missouri Valley series win dating back to the end of the 2022 season with the Sunday victory as Indiana State rallied back from Friday's 4-3 loss to take the final two games against the Redbirds.

Luke Lawrence and Judah Morris had two hits apiece in the loss for the Redbirds with Morris' double to lead off the fourth the lone Illinois State extra-base hit.

Tanner Perry (4-5) took the loss allowing three hits and four runs while walking six over the first 2.0 innings. Matthew Donnison, Joe Husak, and Thomas Harper went the final four innings in the contest combining to allow seven hits while walking eight Sycamores.

In other notes, via ISU sports information:

—Indiana State clinched their 15th consecutive Missouri Valley series win dating back to the end of the 2022 season. The Sycamores are 38-6-1 over the stretch after taking two of three from the Redbirds.

—The Sycamores improved to 14-0-1 in the MVC series finale over the same 15 series stretch with Sunday's win.

—ISU (60) added two more home runs to their 2024 total with Magill (3) and Diaz (9) both going deep on Sunday afternoon. It marked the sixth consecutive game with multiple home runs and 18th game overall this season.

Indiana State continues the seven-game road trip 7 p.m. Friday at Carbondale, Ill., starting a three-game series with host Southern Illinois in Itchy Jones Stadium. The Friday, Saturday and Sunday games will be broadcast on 105.5-FM, and the Friday and Saturday also being streamed on ESPN+. Sunday's contest will be carried on ESPNU at 7 p.m.