Illinois baseball win streak extends to Big Ten Championships


By Ben Lash

The Illinois baseball team (45-6-1) earned the No.1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament after finishing off the regular season with a 26-game winning streak.

This marks the fifth time in school history that the team enters the Big Ten Tournament as the No.1 seed. Illinois lost only one conference game this season, but head coach Dan Hartleb wants his team to remain humbled and focused.

“We don’t talk about the title at all,” Hartleb said. “We just talk about putting everything behind us and just playing one game at a time. “

Illinois’ final tune up before the tournament came against Nebraska May 14-16.

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The first game of the series displayed the Illini’s composure. Despite steady rain, left-hander Kevin Duchene pitched an impressive game, going seven innings and striking out four. Closer Tyler Jay got the save.

The offense also contributed heavily to the 6-3 victory. Sophomore Pat McInerney launched a two-run home run in the fourth inning, and left fielder Ryan Nagle scored one run and recorded one RBI.

The troublesome weather stuck around for the remainder of the series. The second game was delayed for more than two hours.

Despite this delay, the game displayed much more aggressive offense from the Illini and the Cornhuskers. First baseman David Kerian hit one home run and drove in three. The Cornhuskers kept the game close until the final out. Illinois, however, came out on top with a 10-9 victory.

“We wanted to make it dramatic. … Nebraska came out and fought hard,” Kerian said. “We knew we were going to be in fight from the beginning. “

The series finale, which was scheduled for Saturday, was cancelled due to weather inclinations.

Despite two losses to Illinois, Nebraska earned a spot in the Big Ten Tournament as the No. 8 seed and will face Illinois on Wednesday when Big Ten Tournament play begins.

The tournament will be hosted at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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