Illinois baseball earns win, loss and draw

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Online Poster

By Erik Hall

The Illinois baseball team had four strong pitching performances during the team’s three-game weekend. Three strong innings by opponents and only eight runs from Illinois’ offense over 32 innings sent the Illini home with a weekend record of 1-1-1.

“I’d say it is a little bit of a letdown; it’s frustrating,” said right-handed pitcher Jake Toohey. “I think we should have won, if not all three games, at least two. I guess it’s a letdown, but we can’t look at it as a letdown. We got to learn from it and keep making progress.”

Illinois lost their Friday game against Texas-San Antonio 8-4. Behind a complete-game shutout Saturday by redshirt junior Brian Blomquist, Illinois beat Texas-Pan American 3-0.

The Illini closed the weekend with a 1-1 tie after 14 innings against Sam Houston State. The game had to end so Illinois could make it to their flight back to Champaign.

“Baseball is baseball. We had three and a half hours to score and they had three and a half hours to score,” said Illinois head baseball coach Itch Jones. “We tell our players to play as hard as you can for as long as you can. It’s like rainouts and things like that- it’s nothing that you can control.”

This was Illinois baseball’s first tie since April 2, 1986, at Missouri.

Sunday was the sixth tie in the 1,947 games coached by Jones.

“I can’t remember the last time that I’ve ever seen a tie in baseball,” Toohey said. “You always see them on records, but I really can’t remember the last time I was involved in one.”

The tie came after Illinois senior Jimmy Conroy shutout Sam Houston State the first seven innings. Toohey pitched the final 6.2 innings with no runs scored.

The Bearkats’ only run came early in the eighth inning. Second baseman Ryan Hastings scored for the Illini in the sixth inning.

Illinois scored just eight runs in the weekend’s three games.

“I think you have some weeks like that,” Jones said. “I wasn’t pleased with our offense in the fact that we only scored eight runs in 32 innings. We have to put together better offense than that if we are going to be successful.”

Senior third baseman Chad Frk accepted the blame for Illinois’ lack of offense Sunday.

“Timely hitting was a little bit of a problem that was mostly my fault, to be honest with you,” Frk said. “On Sunday, I had opportunities to drive guys in and I didn’t get my job done.”

Despite his self-deprecation, Frk finished the weekend as Illinois’ co-leader for most hits with four. Illinois as a team finished with 24 hits over 32 innings.

Other than the inning when Sam Houston State scored, the only innings that prevented the Illini from a 3-0 record in Texas came against Texas-San Antonio.

“(Matt) Whitmore gave up five runs late in the ballgame and that’s what hurt,” Jones said. “They hit a home run and they got a bunch of hits off of him.”

Whitmore pitched the final 2.1 innings against the Roadrunners. He allowed five runs in the eighth and ninth innings.

Illinois and Texas-San Antonio were tied 3-3 entering the eighth inning. The Roadrunners earned their first win after starting 0-11.

“They had played a lot of good teams and the coach told me before the game that he’s gotten back four of his players,” Jones said. “They didn’t play like a team that was 0-11, by any means. They saved their best pitcher for us and he did a very good job.”

Illinois’ record moved to 3-2-1. The team returns to action Friday at Texas-Arlington.