Illini baseball falters in second game against Michigan

With two outs left in the bottom of the third inning, junior first baseman David Kerian stepped into the batters box for the Illinois baseball team. With the count at 3-2, Kerian squared and crushed the next pitch into centerfield

As it soared through the air, the 25-mile per hour winds blowing out of Illinois Field picked up the ball. The ball cleared the fence and the Illini were on the board.

Although Kerian helped lead the Illini offense to a nine-run performance on Saturday, which started with his three-run home run in the third inning. The Illini still came up short against Michigan, losing 17-9 and snapping the Illini’s six-game winning streak in the process.

“From our perspective it wasn’t as good as we wanted to do,” Kerian said. “They hit the ball really well. We came back and fought back really well. That was good to see out of our team. They just got a couple more hits than us at the right time. We just couldn’t get a big hit when we needed it.”

It didn’t take long for the Wolverines to get on the board, as the team scored five runs in the first inning. Michigan took advantage of the wind with two home runs and seven doubles. The Wolverine’s Jacob Cronenworth started the scoring with a two-run homer to centerfield.

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Illinois’ starting pitcher Ryan Castellanos was pulled after only 2/3 of an inning after giving up five runs on six hits.

“They might not have had a few of those home runs that they did have but they still hit the ball really well,” Kerian said. “They squared up every ball and we just weren’t able to keep up with them.”

After Kerian’s third inning home run brought the Illini within three runs, Michigan and Illinois exchanged four-run innings in the fourth. Juniors Will Krug and Michael Hurwitz both drove in two runs on a single and a double, respectively, for the Illini that brought the score to 10-7 Michigan.

Michigan would score another run in the sixth before exploding for six more runs in the final three innings. After the fourth inning the Illini only scored two additional runs.

Head coach Dan Hartleb said that the Illini faltered in multiple areas before adding that having a bad day is “just part of the game.”

“When you only put up two zeros on the board from a pitching standpoint its tough to win,” Hartleb said. “We had opportunities in a couple innings to make plays defensively that would have put zeros on the board and we didn’t get the job done there. And we had a couple times during the game where we had runners in scoring position and we weren’t very composed at the plate.”

Krug, who went 3-for-5 in the game, said that although the Illini pitching staff didn’t pitch well during the game that he has no doubt in their ability to rebound.

“I think they’ll come out strong,” Krug said. “They’re a hardworking group and a good group of guys and they have good arms so I think they’ll rebound for sure.”

Nicholas can be reached at [email protected] and @IlliniSportsGuy.