Last weekend the University of Illinois baseball team hosted Ohio State University at Illinois Field for three games. The Illini won the series 2-1, victorious in both Friday and Sunday’s games, but each game played very differently and the story of the weekend lies in the subplots throughout.
Friday’s Bleacher Bum BBQ night drew 2339 fans but only a loyal handful stuck around through all fifteen innings that it took to decide a winner, fourteen and a half of which were scoreless. The evening proved to be a true pitchers dual with a total of only sixteen hits in the fifteen innings, the Illini had nine, the Buckeyes had five. Illinois pitcher Cody Sedlock threw a gem, pitching ten and two thirds innings, giving up only five hits and one walk and sticking out fourteen batters. Illini right fielder Jack Yalowitz scored the winning run in the bottom of the fifteenth inning on a wild pitch, so there were no RBIs in the game. Yalowitz was 0-6 for the game with four strikeouts before hitting a single on his seventh attempt. Second baseman Michael Hurwitz continued his hit streak, ten games coming into Friday, with two hits and the win marked six in a row for the Illini.
Saturday’s game would stop the Illini winning streak as the Buckeyes won the game convincingly by a score of 9-1 but Hurwitz’s streak would increase to twelve games with two more hits. Pitcher Doug Hayes started for the Illini but struggled early, giving up nine hits and four runs (three earned) in his six and one third innings. The bullpen would prove even more unsuccessful giving up six hits and five earned runs in the two and two thirds innings shared by four pitchers. Illinois’ offense struggled throughout and the combined lack of pitching and offense turned the game into a blowout.
Sunday’s game was a much more evenly matched contest with the Illini winning by a final score of 5-3 to win the series. Pitcher Cole Bellair started for Illinois and was solid through the first seven and one third innings giving up only one run on five hits, leaving the game with the Illini up 5-1. The Buckeyes battled back in the final two innings against Illini relievers J.D. Nelson, Charlie Naso and Nick Blackburn but it would not be enough. Bellair earned the win evening out his record to 2-2 and Blackburn earned his ninth save. Hurwitz, hitting clean-up rather than his typical number two spot, continued his hit streak to thirteen games and brought his B1G average to .404 and is now tied for best in the conference. First baseman Pat McInerney and centerfielder Doran Turchin also had good series’ at the plate with both getting hits in every game.
The Illini have four days off before hosting another three game weekend series at Illinois Field against Minnesota this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
See the full gallery here: [gallery illini_baseball_wins_weekend_in_33_innings]
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