DePaul rally falls short in 5-4 loss to Illinois State

It seemed the rain that covered Cacciatore Stadium earlier in the day mimicked what would happen when Illinois State came in to face DePaul.

The Blue Demons lost at home to the Illinois State Redbirds (18-15) in a close 5-4 loss that came down to the final out. The defeat ended DePaul’s seven-game winning streak, during which they outscored their opponents 66-20, and marked their second home loss of the season.

Head coach Eugene Lenti knew exactly what went wrong.

“We lost because we walked too many batters, gave up too many hits and we didn’t pitch to contact,” said Lenti. “We outhit them but we didn’t outpitch them.”

DePaul (23-14) spent most of the game trying to claw back from a nightmare in the top of the second inning after starting pitcher Kirsten Verdun walked two batters and had the bases loaded after an error by first baseman Megan Coronado. The runs then got raked in as a wild pitch brought in one runner, followed by Jhavon Hamilton cracking a 3-run homer – Verdun’s 14th home run given up this season – upping the score to 4-0.

It wasn’t all bad for DePaul, however; the succession of a walk followed by hits from Verdun and outfielder Paige Peterson loaded up the bases in the 4th inning. Coronado brought the DePaul scoreline alive with a two-run double. The Redbirds then increased their lead after Hannah Penna, in to relieve Verdun in the 6th inning, gave up a two-run single that put the Demons down 5-2.

DePaul made things interesting in the bottom of the 7th, as back-to-back errors on Penna and shortstop Allie Braden at-bats caused the score to close to 5-3, while outfielder Samantha Dodd drove in a runner to make it 5-4. But with two outs and the tying run on second, designated hitter Mary Connolly flew out to end the game.

“We took a while to get hitting, but hitting is the hard part,” said Lenti. “We had to also pitch as well. We hit the runs to win the game, we just didn’t pitch to win.”

Penna and Verdun combined for five walks, 10 strikeouts and 34 batters faced, while ISU starting pitcher Taylor Baxter threw three strikeouts and only walked one batter before being relieved in the bottom of the 7th. DePaul outfielder Paige Peterson went 2-3 and was the only DePaul batter on the day with a multiple-hit game.

While the loss did sting a bit, Lenti said his team won’t take this loss too hard.

“Every game is a battle,” said Lenti. “We learned things we needed to do today to stay successful.”