Illinois baseball split its Saturday games with the Hawkeyes

By Ethan Swanson, Staff writer

Due to unseasonably cold weather, the Illinois baseball team’s Friday matchup with Iowa was moved to Saturday afternoon as part of a series-opening doubleheader.

Despite the chilly conditions in Iowa City, the Illini’s Saturday split with the Hawkeyes was highlighted by a career outing for starting pitcher Cody Sedlock in a 4-3 extra-inning loss and a red-hot offense in the following 10-4 victory.

“You don’t prepare any differently for a double header, you’re just on the field longer,” head coach Dan Hartleb said. “You try to win the first game then you worry about the second. Unfortunately, we missed some opportunities in the first game and weren’t able to get both.”

It didn’t seem likely Sedlock would end up pitching the gem he did based on how the game started for the Illini.

Iowa’s Nick Roscetti sent one out of the park in the first inning to put the Hawkeyes up 1-0. The home team would add two more runs in the third, making it appear that Sedlock’s day would ended sooner than later. But after the initial Hawkeye surge, Iowa hitters would have a tough time at the plate.

Sedlock had four strikeouts through three innings, and RBIs from Dan Rowbottom and Pat McInernery in the fourth inning seemed to give the starting pitcher even more confidence on the mound.

The right-hander shut down every Iowa scoring opportunity from that point on, stifling the Hawkeye offense with a career-high 11 strikeouts through eight innings pitched.

“I left some fastballs over the plate that they got ahold of early on, but I felt good on the mound,” Sedlock said. “All our starting pitchers have confidence when they take the mound knowing we have a bullpen behind us. We just have to start getting our offense and pitching on the same page and going at the same time.”

With Sedlock keeping them within striking distance heading into the ninth, the Illini would tie the game with a pinch hit from Luke Shilling. Illinois had an opportunity to take the lead after two walks loaded the bases with one out, but the Illini stranded all three runners on base.

Headed to an extra innnign, the Illini couldn’t get anything going in the top frame. Iowa would put runners on the corners with one out in the bottom of the inning and the Illini brought in pitcher J.D. Nielson.

However, Nielson would commit a throwing error after the next batter laid down a safety-squeeze bunt, ending the game 4-3 in favor of Iowa.

“Everytime we get in those tight situations, its upperclassmen who find themselves in that spot,” Hartleb said. “I just tell them they need to step up and make a play with confidence.”

In Game Two, Illinois more than made up for its lack of offense in the first game, by putting on a hitting display.

This time it was the Illini would jumped out to the early lead, as catcher Jason Goldstein bombed a two-run shot in the top of the first. Third-baseman Trent Hammond would follow suit in the second with a two-run home run of his own, and a subsequent RBI double from Michael Hurwitz would put the Illini up 5-1 after two innings.

Both teams’ bats quieted in the following couple innings, but Illini freshman Doran Turchin made some noise in the top of the fifth.

With the bases loaded, Turchin blew the game wide open to 9-2 with grand slam.

“I was in shock, to be honest,” Turchin said. “I knew I had hit it hard, but I didn’t think it was going to go out.”

Starting pitcher Doug Hayes didn’t have a Sedlock-like appearance on the mound, but he managed to put together a quality start in the midst of the Illini’s offensive tear, allowing four runs and registering two strikeouts through 5.2 innings pitched.

In the seventh, Jack Yalowitz’s RBI single gave Illinois a new season-high for runs scored with 10. The 10-4 score would hold through the ninth inning, giving Illinois the 1-1 split for the day.

“Tomorrow’s game is huge,” Sedlock added. “A series win right now would be big for us.”

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