Redbirds triumph over Illini


Austin Yattoni

Illinois catcher Jacob Campbell (9) celebrates with third baseman Grant Van Scoy (27) after hitting a homerun during game one of the doubleheader against Maryland at Illinois Field on Saturday, April 6, 2019. The Illini won 5-1.

By Miles Powers-Huang

In the midst of conference play, Illinois baseball took a quick pit stop out of the conference for a single game at Illinois State on Tuesday. Fans at the Redbirds’ Duffy Bass Field were treated to free baseball as the home team prevailed in 13 innings.

Illinois opened the scoring in the second inning through its seniors. Jack Yalowitz‘s one-out double to right field was followed by a Grant Van Scoy single which moved him to third before a sacrifice fly from Michael Michalak brought Yalowitz home.

Illinois State responded resoundingly in the third as junior outfielder Joe Butler connected for a bases-loaded triple that brought home three runs.

It was a step back for freshman starter Aidan Maldonado, who came into the game allowing just three earned runs in three career starts so far. Maldonado matched that total in 3 2/3 innings pitched, including a fourth run that went unearned.

“(I) thought (Maldonado) competed well and did a number of things well,” said head coach Dan Hartleb. “He’s gotta continue to minimize his walks, but (he) went out and competed for us.”

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    Yalowitz continued to carry the Illini offense the following inning with a double to bring home Cam McDonald after the freshman singled. Van Scoy singled Yalowitz over to third and a walk from Michalak loaded the bases for freshman Jacob Campbell.

    The Illini catcher capitalized on the chance to drive in runs, knocking a double to the left-center gap that scored Yalowitz and Van Scoy. However, Michalak was thrown out at third. The next batter, junior shortstop Ben Troike, poked a single to left that drove Campbell in, and after the top of the fourth, Illinois was back on top 5-3.

    Although he was hitting just .186 coming into the game, he went 2-3 with an RBI and three runs scored in Illinois’ 14-3 win over Illinois State on March 22.

    “I know it’s (an) in-state (game), but honestly, I don’t put any stock into the competition,” Campbell said. “I just bring the same energy every single time I hit and the same plan. If it happens to be against Illinois State, then I’ll take it.”

    The Redbirds got one back the next half inning as junior John Rave doubled to right and senior catcher Nick Zouras advanced home on an error by Campbell, making the score 5-4.

    Yalowtiz served as the Illini’s run producer again in the fifth. His third double of the game brought home freshman Kellen Sarver to make the score 6-4.

    “Jack had a really good night; (I) thought he swung the bat well,” Hartleb said. “All year he’s been a solid guy in our lineup that has obviously done a good job.”

    Illinois State tied the game in the sixth as Rave drove home a run via an RBI single before scoring on a double from senior Derek Parola.

    The Illini bullpen held the Redbirds scoreless for the next six innings, keeping Illinois in the game as its bats cooled down.

    “Honestly, for most of the game we just went right at (Illinois State) and let them put the ball in play and trust our defense; I think that’s a huge part of it,” Campbell said. “Obviously it’s tough playing extra innings like that. We just got good effort out of most of our guys out of the pen, but we just came up a tad too short.”

    In the 13th inning Illinois State broke through against Illinois’ Garrett Acton in the midst of his third inning of work, which was a heavier-than-usual workload for the junior closer.

    Parola led off with a walk, and after advancing to second on a sac bunt, he scored on a walk-off double from Champaign-native Joe Aeilts.

    The single-game series loss moved Illinois to 20-11 while Illinois State improved to 18-14. Illinois travels to Minnesota for a three-game series this weekend.


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