The Illinois State baseball team split a doubleheader with No. 1 Vanderbilt on Sunday in Nashville, winning the second game 7-3 and handing the Commodores their third loss of the season. The last time the Redbirds defeated a top-10 opponent was in February of 2016 when Illinois State bested No. 9 Oregon 3-2 in Eugene, Oregon.

The Redbird pitching staff put on an excellent performance, beginning with junior LHP Matt Walker limiting Vanderbilt to three runs in the first four frames. Illinois State reliever Colton Johnson (2-0) earned the win, allowing just two hits and a walk while striking out four in three scoreless innings. Redshirt sophomore Jacob Gilmore secured his fourth save of his season, coming in midway through the eighth inning and holding the Commodores hitless for the last two innings.

“We played like we belonged on the same field as them today,” said head coach Steve Holm. “Walker has been our hottest pitcher and he matched up really well against them. Our bullpen did an incredible job throwing strikes and giving us great life.”

Leading the Redbird offense was junior Joe Aeilts (3-for-4, 2 RBIs), redshirt senior Derek Parola (1-for-4, 2 RBIs), and sophomore Tyson Hays (0-for-2, 2 RBIs).

Illinois State is set to host Central Michigan March 15-17 in its home opener. The Redbirds take on the Chippewas at 5 p.m. on Friday, in a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday, and again in the series finale on Sunday at 1 p.m. Admission to all regular season home baseball games is free!