Illinois baseball loses Big Ten Tournament opener to Indiana


By Adam Rosen, Summer Editor

Illinois traveled to Omaha, Neb. for the Big Ten Tournament and took on a familiar opponent in the Indiana Hoosiers. The Hoosiers knocked the Illini out of the tournament last year and took two out of three games from them this year.

The winner of the game moves on to play the No. 3 seed Iowa Hawkeyes and the loser will play the No. 6 seed Michigan Wolverines in the double-elimination game.

On the bump for the Illini was junior right-hander Jack Wenninger, who was recently named to the All-Big Ten Second Team along with his teammate, sophomore outfielder Ryan Moerman. Both starters pitched a relatively clean inning, only allowing one baserunner but retiring the side. Wenninger recorded a pair of punchouts.

The second inning was more of the same, as Wenninger added another pair of strikeouts to continue a solid start. The game remained scoreless until the fifth inning, when graduate third baseman Branden Comia drove in senior outfielder Danny Doligale on a gap-shot double to take a 1-0 lead.

The lead did not last long, as the Hoosiers quickly responded with a pair of extra-base hits of their own, tying the game at 1-1. However, the runs would not stop there for the Hoosiers, who loaded the bases, ending Wenninger’s day early. The Hoosiers took a 2-1 lead heading into the final three frames of the afternoon.

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The Illini could not gain any momentum from the Hoosiers, who pitched a stellar game across all nine innings of work. Their offense did enough work as well, adding some extra insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, taking a 4-1 lead. The Illini entered the top of the ninth with the bottom of the order headed to the plate, but they had not reached base safely since the sixth inning.

Illinois was able to bring the tying run to the plate in the ninth, however, and it fittingly would be Comia with a chance to shake things up in the tournament. Comia walked which brought up the go-ahead run, graduate outfielder Cam McDonald. McDonald reached on an error that gave the Illini plenty of hope, as two runs crossed the plate. The score was 4-3, and junior first baseman Drake Westcott stepped up to the plate. Unfortunately for the Illini, that would be all, as the game ended 4-3.

The Illini will play against the Wolverines tomorrow night, after falling short against the Hoosiers.



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