Illinois baseball returns home to face Maryland

By Stephen Cohn, Staff writer

The Illinois baseball team will return home from an eight-game road trip when it welcomes Maryland to Illinois Field on Friday night.

It is the first series between the two teams in Champaign since Maryland joined the Big Ten three years ago.

The Illini ride a three-game winning streak into the three-game weekend series. They went 4-4 on the road trip.

Illinois avenged two early season losses to Southern Illinois with a 6-5 win Tuesday night. The Illini dropped a pair of home games to the Salukis in March.

Every Illinois starter recorded at least one hit in Carbondale.

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    Sophomore closer Joey Gerber recorded his seventh save of 2017 Tuesday.

    Illinois second baseman Michael Massey swings a hot bat entering the series with the top squad in the Big Ten. Massey earned his second-straight Big Ten Freshman of the Week award last week after hitting .526 with three three-hit games.

    Massey extended his hitting streak to 14 games against the Salukis, recording two hits, an RBI and a run Tuesday.

    Starting pitcher Ty Weber also earned Freshman of the Week honors earlier this season.

    Maryland (29-13, 13-5 Big Ten) is hitting the road again after dropping two out of three games against Indiana last weekend.

    The Terrapins hosted Towson in College Park, Maryland, on Wednesday night.

    Outfielder Marty Costes leads Maryland with a .353 average and team-leading nine home runs. The sophomore is one of three Terrapins to start every game so far this season.

    Junior pitcher Brian Shaffer will likely get a start from head coach John Szefc in one of the games. The right-handed pitcher leads Maryland with a 1.73 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 73 innings.

    Friday’s series opener is Lou Boudreau Day at Illinois Field. Boudreau led the Illini baseball and basketball teams to Big Ten championships during the 1936-37 season. The Baseball Hall of Famer is part of the first class in the Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame.

    Illinois (19-23, 5-10 Big Ten) leaped past Ohio State after last weekend’s series win against Minnesota. The Illini currently sit in 11th place in the conference. The top eight teams qualify for the conference tournament.

    The Illini have two more series on tap for the 2017 regular season after this weekend. They head east to Piscataway, New Jersey, for their final road series of the year against Rutgers next weekend, and Iowa visits Illinois Field to close out the season beginning May 18.

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