Ranked in the top five nationally, the Illinois Springfield baseball team probably figured on at least winning a three-game non-conference home series against UW-Parkside on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Rangers had different ideas.

After splitting a doubleheader with the Prairie Stars — ranked No. 4 in the latest NCAA Division II coaches poll — on Tuesday, Parkside captured the series with a 5-2 win Wednesday afternoon in Springfield, Ill.

Parkside improved to 4-8 and has won four of its last five games, including three over nationally ranked opponents.

On Wednesday, Tremper graduate Hunter Weddel got the win to improve to 1-0, allowing two runs on four hits with five strikeouts over 52/3 innings.

Aaron Cusimano then worked the final 31/3 innings, holding Springfield scoreless while allowing three hits and fanning three.

Springfield (11-2-2) took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, but Parkside tied it in the top of the second when Justin Bennett — who belted a grand slam in Tuesday’s win — plated Indian Trail product Lane Ochs with a base hit.

The Rangers then took a 2-1 lead when Shawn Rigsby drilled his first career home run in the top of the fourth. In the top of the fifth, Domenic Esposito scored Kurt Mlachnick and Matt Tegtmeier with a two-run single to stretch Parkside’s lead to 4-1.

After the Prairie Stars scored a run in the bottom of the sixth, Cusimano came on and got a flyout with runners on first and second.

Casey Oliver then homered in the top of the seventh to give Parkside an insurance run.

Oliver and Rigsby each went 2-for-4, while Bennett was also 2-for-4 with a double.

The Rangers play a non-conference game at Findlay (Ohio) on March 20 before opening Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play with a four-game series at Ashland (Ohio) from March 22-24.

Reds’ twinbill pushed

back to March 23

The Carthage softball team’s non-conference doubleheader at Milwaukee School of Engineering, scheduled for noon Saturday, has been moved to March 23 at noon due to unplayable field conditions.

The Reds are 7-3 after their season-opening trip to Kissimmee, Fla.

Mike Johnson

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