In a lengthy tournament, pitchers come at a premium. So, Dallas Baptist coach Dan Heefner wore a gleaming smile exiting the dugout following a 6-2 victory over Indiana State not only because his Patriots move on, but because he only spent two arms to do so.
“To only use two guys today was really big for us,” he said. “Normally, we don’t use our closer that long but we felt like that was the game situation.”
Jordan Martinson carried DBU for the first 6 1-3 innings, surrendering two runs, both in the fourth inning, on seven hits and three walks while fanning six batters.
Along that stretch, his teammates had provided him five runs.
Garrett Wolforth doubled home a run in the bottom of the second to give Dallas Baptist an early 1-0 lead.
The Sycamores stole their own one-run lead in the top of the fourth on a two-run shot from Dane Giesler.
It was short-lived, however, as DBU put up two more runs in the bottom of the frame and again in the bottom of the fifth.
The first two came on a two-run home run by Tim Millard and the other two from an Evan Sandmann two-RBI single.
Indiana State coach Mitch Hannahs knew right away his team was in trouble.
“Once they get separation, boy, it’s hard to get back to them,” he said. “I thought we had a chance to keep it tight and take the lead. To me, that was the big juncture when they dropped that two-spot to make it a three-run game.”
His Sycamores began to threaten in the top of the seventh with Dominic Bifano reaching on a walk, stealing second and Tyler Friis also reaching via a walk.
Heefner countered by sending in his closer Seth Elledge.
His gamble paid off as Elledge worked 2 2-3 innings and only walked one batter while striking out four.
The Patriots added one more run for good measure in the bottom of the seventh with a Matt Duce RBI single.
“We know we’re in a situation where we have to win and, I think, they’re embracing that and enjoying that,” he said. “When you get to the postseason you can’t put pressure on yourself. You have to enjoy it. This is what you play for and what you’ve worked for all season long.”
Indiana State still has a shot at reaching the title game but the Sycamores face the challenge of having to beat Evansville again, then Dallas Baptist twice more.
“We have capable guys,” Hannahs said. “It’s not a choice now. We have to go out there and really compete.”