Illini baseball fall short in a pitcher’s duel

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Illinois’ Pat Mclnerney takes a swing at the ball during the baseball game vs. Indiana at Illinois Field on Saturday. Illinois won 6-3.

By Will Gerard, Staff Writer

Base runners were few and far between tonight with both starting pitchers nearly going the distance in Michigan’s 1-0 victory at Illinois Field.

Michigan’s LHP Brett Adcock came out on top, surrendering a mere three hits in 8 and 1/3 innings pitched. Adcock loaded the bases in first but was able to escape unscathed and as the game progressed, overcame early struggles with his command behind a sweeping breaking ball.

Illinois rallied in the bottom of the last frame, getting two runners on base before Bryan Pall shut the door. Pall struck out Pat McInerny before walking pitch-hitter Anthony Drago on a full count. After a second mound visit of the inning, with the crowd on its feet, the game ended on fly out to right field by pinch-hitter Mark Skonieczny. The team left a total of eight men on base in the first of a three-game set with the Wolverines.

The Illini likely must win-out in order to bolster their chances of making the Big Ten Tournament. Head coach Dan Hartleb is aware of what it will take for his team to compete at Omaha, this year’s tournament host site.

“We’ve been behind the eight ball a lot this year and now it just comes down to do or die,” Hartleb said. “We’ll need to come out with composure (tomorrow) and find a way to get our jobs done.”

Junior pitcher Cody Sedlock threw a complete game for the Illini, sitting with a fastball in the mid-90’s the entire game. Sedlock was locked in from the beginning – his first pitch was recorded on the scoreboard at 95 MPH – and he finished with nine strikeouts while allowing only three hits.

In the fifth inning, Michigan’s Johnny Slater knocked in the lone run of the night on a solo blast to right field. Slater has struggled mightily at the plate this season, hitting for a .192 average. The home run was his first of the season.

“I wish I could have that one pitch back so we could still be playing,” Sedlock said, “I wouldn’t say it was a mistake pitch he just got a barrel on it.” 

With the exception of the long ball, Michigan was forced to resort to small-ball on the night after their three-hitter, Carmen Benedetti, was a late scratch from the starting lineup. Benedetti suffered an apparent injury as a result of crashing into the left wall during warm-ups. Tonight was the first game the reigning All-Big Ten first team member has not started this season.

Illinois will look to overcome recent offensive woes in tomorrow’s rematch. The probable starters for tomorrow’s affair are left-handed pitchers Doug Hayes for Illinois (6-5, 3.12 ERA) and Oliver Jaskie for Michigan (7-3, 3.36 ERA). First pitch is set again for 6 p.m. at Illinois Field.

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