Illinois baseball wins series against Sam Houston despite game three collapse

By Adam Rosen, Staff Writer

Illinois baseball traveled to Huntsville, Texas, for a three-game set against the Sam Houston State Bearkats this weekend. The Illini, coming off a huge ranked series win the weekend prior, carried the momentum into the dry heat of the south.

However, in game one, it would continue to prove that nothing will come easy. Despite Illinois starting with a 3-0 lead after scoring in both the first and second innings, the pitching could not hold up. The Illini ace, junior Riley Gowens, struggled as he gave up five earned runs and recorded only 13 outs, exiting in the fifth.

However, the Illini offense reawakened, and in the sixth inning, they took the lead after senior Cam McDonald grounded into a double play but registered an RBI. Junior John Lundgren came in relief and locked it down to allow the Illini offense to grab that lead, as did fellow transfer graduate student T.J. Constertina.

The Illini were able to hold on to the late lead and took game one by a score of 8-5. They would enter the second game looking for a third straight win.

The Bearkats however, had other plans, as they jumped out to a 1-0 lead quickly. The Illini responded to make it 5-2 in the seventh inning. What felt like a close and low-scoring game turned into a blowout via power surge. The Illini hit four home runs, and junior Jack Crowder pitched a low-scoring game, as the Illini won 8-3.

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The Illini looked for their first sweep of an opponent this season on Sunday, while the Bearkats looked to avoid that fate. The Illini drew first blood in the game; however, the Bearkats were unfazed as they stormed back to take a 3-1 lead. Much like the previous game, it was a back and forth, but with extra scoring.

By the middle of the seventh inning, the game was 6-4 in favor of the Illini; however, the Bearkats once again mashed their way back on top, scoring a total of six runs, five of them via the long ball, enroute to taking a 10-6 lead going into the final two innings.

The Illini struggled mightily with runners on base, going 4-20 in those scenarios. The Bearkats took advantage and locked it down for the final two innings, as they avoided a sweep with the 10-6 win.

Head coach Dan Hartleb did not mince words when discussing the performance in game three.

“We didn’t play very well,” Hartleb said. “We lost in all aspects of the game, we weren’t very good on the mound at any point, defensively we weren’t very good and offensively we didn’t command the zone.”

The Illini, now at 6-4 will continue their season on the road. They will travel southeast to Conway, S.C., as they will face the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, a team that has been a perennial contender for over a decade.



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