Illini victorious over Blackburn College



By Jason Grodsky

The Illinois baseball team received its second solid pitching effort in as many days on Wednesday night.

Behind a good start on mound by freshman pitcher Kevin Manson, the Illini defeated Blackburn College 9-3 in front of a sparse crowd on a soggy, windy night at Illinois Field.

Making his second start in a week, Manson shut down a Blackburn team that came into the night having won seven of its last eight games.

The right-hander from Park Ridge, Ill. built off his outing last Wednesday against Robert Morris College by allowing just two runs on five hits and striking out five in five innings of work.

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Manson’s two allowed runs came in the fifth inning, when the Beavers took advantage of a throwing error by Illini freshman catcher Joe Mercurio to score their first run. Blackburn then tied the game at 2-2 on a suicide squeeze play.

“I thought I pitched well as a whole, there were a couple of innings I felt I could’ve done better, but I think I did pretty good,” Manson said. “I’m getting a chance to pitch in our make up games, and I’m just trying take advantage of it.”

Wearing their orange uniforms at home for the first time this season, Illinois got jumped on top of the Beavers 2-0 in the first inning by taking advantage of two errors by Blackburn.

Illinois senior first baseman Mike Rohde got the Illini back on the board in the fifth inning with a two out bases clearing double with the bases loaded. Rohde then scored on junior right fielder Daniel Webb’s single that gave Illinois a 6-2 lead.

“We had to wait back on the pitchers because they didn’t throw as hard as we’re used, but they changed speeds well,” Rohde said. Illinois added three runs in the eighth to secure the victory and give Manson his first win.

Rohde led the Illini with three RBIs and two runs scored to help extend the Illini’s record to 19-17 on the season heading into this weekend’s Big Ten home series against Minnesota.

“I’m not sure that there is a lot of momentum in baseball, but I like the fact that we’re moving forward and making improvements,” head coach Dan Hartleb said.