Illinois sweeps series against Grand Canyon

By Meghan Rest, Assistant Sports Editor

Illinois swept its three-game series against Grand Canyon after back-to-back-to-back wins in Phoenix, Arizona.

The Illini are off to their best start since 2015, when the team went 9-2-1 in their first 13 contests. As of Saturday, Illinois improved to 9-3 on the season and as of Sunday, the team moved to 10-3.

Senior southpaw Andy Fisher (2-1) led Illinois to a 6-3 victory over Grand Canyon thanks to his no-hitter going into the eighth inning Friday. Fisher threw seven innings and allowed just one run on one hit.

On offense, senior outfielder Jack Yalowitz went 4-for-4 on the day, registering half of Illinois’ hit and knocked two homers in the third and ninth innings. He also pumped out five RBIs across the Illini’s first game of the weekend and recorded a single and a double.

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    The Illini held the Antelope to just three hits Friday in front of former Illinois standout and third-round pick in the 2018 MLB draft by the Cincinnati Reds, Bren Spillane.

    The combination of Fisher and junior right-handers Ryan Schmitt and Garrett Acton allowed just three earned runs, four walks and struck out nine-six Ks coming from Fisher’s start.

    Illinois rode the winning momentum from Friday’s contest into Saturday, besting Grand Canyon 5-2.

    The Illini were once again led by clutch pitching during their second meeting with the Antelopes. Senior righty Sean Leland (2-1) may have only thrown for 4 1/3 innings, but struck out a career-best eight batters and allowed just one hit out of the bullpen. He took Illinois from the fourth all the way until the ninth inning.

    Illinois out-hit Grand Canyon 11-2 thanks to performances from freshman utility Cam McDonald and juniors Ben Troike and Michael Massey. Troike led the team with three hits and one run including a single sacrifice fly, while Massey registered two hits, including a double and a homer, two RBIs and one run. McDonald went 2-for-4 on the day with one RBI.

    On the mound, Illinois junior right-handed pitcher Ty Weber started off the contest and allowed two earned runs and one hit across three and two-thirds innings.

    Acton stepped in to close the game after performances from Leland and sophomore left-hander Josh Harris. Acton not only collected his fifth save of the season and his second of the weekend.

    Sunday Illinois jumped out to a massive lead, edging Grand Canyon 7-0 through the first five innings and sealing the team’s third straight victory of the weekend, 9-2.

    The Illini offense stifled the Antelope with 16 hits compared to their opponent’s seven, and Illinois outhit Grand Canyon 35-12. Six Illini knocked two or more hits and senior outfielder Zac Taylor and freshman first baseman Kellen Sarver recorded three hits each.

    Junior shortstop Ben Troike’s bat was hot. He went 5-for-2 on the day with two runs, two doubles and two RBIs.

    Junior righty Cyrillo Watson started on the mound for Illinois and allowed just four Grand Canyon hits through six complete innings. Watson allowed one earned run, struck out two and had a 1.50 single-game ERA.

    Illinois is back in action Friday for their first home series of the season against Southern Illinois. The Illini will kick off their three-game weekend at Illinois Field at 4 p.m. Friday.


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