Illinois baseball takes two of three games against Southern Illinois in neutral site series


Sidney Malone

First Baseman/Catcher Kellen Sarver enjoying his time on the field during a home game against Miami on May. 5. Starting with a slow start behind the Saluskis, the Illini managed to push their plays as the game intensified leading to a 2-3 victory for the Illini.

By Adam Rosen, Assistant Sports Editor

Illinois baseball traveled to Booneville, Mississippi for a neutral site series against the Southern Illinois Salukis. The series, originally scheduled for an Illini home weekend, was moved due to weather concerns in Champaign.

The Illini entered off of a loss in their home opener, and with another road game, they looked to get back on track. As usual, Riley Gowens took the mound in game one.

The story however, at least in the early stages of the first game, was senior shortstop Branden Comia’s 200th career base hit. The milestone ball was sent into the video board as Comia smoked the historic home run to put the Illini up 2-0 in the first.

The lead slowly dwindled down, until the Salukis were able to get to Illinois’ pitching. Down 2-1 in the fifth, Southern Illinois drove in a run to level it out.

The game was deadlocked for a while, as Gowens stifled the Saluki offense, holding them to two runs on seven hits, and 10 punchouts. The Illini ended up pulling ahead and won the first game of the series 3-2.

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Game two was a constant back-and-forth. The Salukis took an early 1-0 lead, then the Illini came back and made it 2-1. Almost instantly, Southern scored a pair of runs and took the lead back, which Illinois responded with a trio of runs.

Things would get more chaotic, as by the middle of the fifth inning, the teams were squared up at nine runs apiece. Drake Westcott hit his second long ball of the game in the bottom of the sixth.

By the ninth inning, the Illini were up 12-10 and lefthander T.J. Constertina was on the mound to close the game. The Arlington Heights native did just that, as the Illini clinched a series win, and looked to sweep the Salukis.

Right handed pitcher Jack Wenninger was on the mound searching for the Illini sweep. However, the Salukis had different ideas. The game was a stranglehold at 2-2, but the Salukis pulled ahead late.

The Illini lost 4-2 in the series finale, dropping to 9-7 on the year. Illinois will continue their season on the road again, but only a short drive the Peoria, to take on the Bradley Braves in a one game series.



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