Illinois baseball drops final Big Ten series to Rutgers

By Adam Rosen, Assistant Sports Editor

In its final Big Ten series of the regular season, Illinois baseball traveled to New Jersey. The opposing Rutgers Scarlet Knights would prove to be likely the final barrier between the Illini and postseason play.

With one more regular season series to follow, the Illini needed to win this series. Coming off their best performances of the season with a sweep over the Michigan State Spartans, the Illini had plenty of confidence going into the weekend.

Game one did not start positively at all for the visitors. The starting pitcher, junior righthander Jack Crowder, left after only recording 11 outs and giving up five earned runs. Senior righthander Joe Glassey entered in relief, shutting down the Rutgers lineup over several innings of work. 

However, the Illini offense couldn’t get back into the competition despite also recording over 10 hits in the first seven innings. Things changed in the eighth inning, when sophomore right fielder Danny Doligale got Illinois within a run on a two-run homer. But that was all, as Illinois lost game one 5-4. 

Junior righthander Jack Wenninger took the mound in game two, and the Illini bags woke up early with a five run outburst in the second inning. Illinois added more along the way, but the high scoring affair would be for both sides, as Rutgers made it a 9-5 game in the fifth.

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    A close scoring affair, the Illini eked out the win 9-7. Game three, the rubber match, would almost certainly determine the Illini’s future. Freshman righthander Julius Sanchez started in the pivotal game three.

    Despite only allowing three runs, the Illini could not find an answer at the plate. Multiple opportunities to advance or drive in runners were unsuccessful. Illinois had just one hit with runners on the bases as it lost the Big Ten finale, 3-0. 

    With just one more series remaining and their standings in the conference out of their control, Illinois will head back home for a series that begins on Thursday.



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