Heartland takes two from #8 ICC
Illinois Central College pretty much hit rock bottom a few years ago, with much of the team and coaching staff leaving over a rift with the school in how the program was to be run. Since then, they’ve gone a long way in rebuilding the program, to the point where they came into this weekend’s series with perennial JUCO power Heartland Community College with a 12-4 record and a #8 ranking in NJCAA DII. A good showing against Heartland would go a long way in validating what they’ve been working on. Unfortunately, the Hawks pitching proved a little too difficult a puzzle to solve and ICC’s trip to Normal came up empty, dropping both ends of Friday’s doubleheader.
The story of both games for the Hawks today was pitching. In game one’s 4-1 victory, Daniel Lietz, who’s been the hard luck loser of two error plagued games so far this season, left nothing to chance against ICC, pitching nine strong innings, allowing only one run on five hits, while striking out nine and walking none. Lietz face only 32 batters in the game, while moving his record to 2-2.
Heartland had seven hits on the game, only one of which was an extra base hit. The Hawks performed their typical thievery, swiping six bases on the game. Cody Dykema led the offensive attack for the Hawks, going 2 for 4, with two runs and three stolen bases. Trevor Forde went 2 for 3 with an RBI.
Game two saw the Hawks’ pitching dominate once again in this 2-0 win. This time it was the combined effort of Jacob Hendren and Ryan Byrne. Hendren picked up the win to move to 3-0, tossing 5 2/3 innings, allowing no runs on five hits, while walking three and striking out three. Ryan Byrne got his second save of the season, throwing 1 1/3 innings, allowing no runs, while striking out three and walking none.
Heartland made the most of their three hits, one walk, and zero stolen bases. Andre Sopena, Andrew McCafferty, and Chad Klein collected on hit a piece, with McCafferty and Phil Toldo picking up one RBI each. McCafferty had one double.
Heartland’s record moves to 14-3 on the season and 4-0 in the conference. Heartland and ICC move up I-74 on Saturday to play two in East Peoria.