Illinois strikes out against Indiana State


Photo Courtesy of Michael Glasgow

Cam McDonald nudges a teammate at Illinois Field on Saturday. The Illini had a three-game winning streak before losing to the Indiana State Sycamores 1-3 on Tuesday night.

By Jake Hasan, Staff Writer

The Illini were on a three-game win streak and had won four out of their last five going into Tuesday’s contest against the Indiana State Sycamores.

With freshman Aidan Maldonado taking the ball to start the game, Illinois looked to make it four in a row and continue building momentum ahead of their first conference series against Iowa this weekend.

Maldonado pitched a career-high four and two-thirds innings, allowing zero runs but issuing six walks.

“(Maldonado’s) got a lot of God-given ability, and he’s got a very good arm and good stuff,” said head coach Dan Hartleb. “Bottom line is he’s got to learn to pound the strike zone and stay away from the free passes.”

It wasn’t Maldonado who gave up the runs to Indiana State; it was the bullpen. The relievers have been solid for the Illini all year, with four of them registering a sub-three ERAs going into Tuesday’s contest.

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Josh Harris, a sophomore transfer who had a 1.69 ERA and 10 strikeouts in  nine appearances, walked two batters and hit another resulting in three unearned runs for Indiana State.

“These guys do it every day in practice. It’s something they do all year. They gotta go do it in a game,” Hartleb said. “There’s no excuse for not throwing strikes. We didn’t do that tonight.”

The Illini offense was uncharacteristically cold against the Sycamores. The team’s lone run was pushed across by junior standout Michael Massey in the sixth inning which increased his hit streak to seven games. It was the junior’s seventh double of the year and his fifteenth RBI.

The Illini will travel to Iowa City to start conference play against the Iowa Hawkeyes in a three-game series. Hartleb said the team will regroup before Friday’s game.

“(As) we move on from tonight, (we keep in mind) we’ve won a lot of games in a row, and (when) you have one night where you don’t play very well, you put it behind you, have a good practice on Thursday and get ready for Friday,” Hartleb said.

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