The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Illini dog walk the Huskies, sweep Northern Illinois for fifth-straight series win

Lucas Sun
Redshirt senior catcher Jacob Schroeder fouls off a ball in the bottom of the fourth inning on Friday against Northern Illinois. Schroeder mashed three home runs against the Huskies on Sunday.

Illinois baseball (20-13) continued its nine-game homestand with a series sweep over Northern Illinois (11-24). The Illini were electric at the plate, booking 50 hits and 15 home runs across the weekend. Winning by double-digits in each game, scores read 15-5 on Friday, 16-5 on Saturday and 21-11 on Sunday. 

The visitors connected early on Friday with their first two batters going yard to start the game. A northern breeze favored offenses this weekend and aided the onslaught of dingers. Starting on the mound for Illinois was senior right-handed pitcher Jack Crowder who worked six innings, letting up four runs on four hits and striking out three batters. 

Junior third baseman Coltin Quagliano began the action for Illinois and powered a line drive off the center field wall with the bases loaded, scoring two runs. The Illini passed the bat to piece together hits and put up seven runs in the second inning. 

An RBI groundout added a run for the Huskies in the third inning before Crowder ended the inning with a backward K. The bats kept rolling into the fourth inning as junior right fielder Ryan Moerman shot a solo home run, and Quagliano put one out to add two more Illinois runs. A double down the left field line from Moerman in the fifth inning set up graduate student designated hitter Jacob Schroeder’s two-run bomb. 

Northern Illinois hit its third solo home run to lead off the sixth inning. The Illini kept slugging with a double from Wescott to the left-center gap, scoring senior shortstop Cal Hejza from first. A line drive to center field from junior left fielder Vytas Valincius powered Illinois to a 15-4 lead. 

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Another solo home run added a run for the Huskies before sophomore right-handed pitcher Julius Sanchez relieved Crowder, struck out two batters and fielded his position on a hard-hit grounder to complete the seventh inning. Redshirt sophomore lefty pitcher Reed Gannon closed out the game for the Illini with three strikeouts as Illinois took a 15-5 victory.

“We know everybody in our lineup is going to rake,” Quagliano said. “You just go out there and do your job and if you don’t, then you have a guy that’s gonna pick you up.”  

On Saturday, the Illini grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning before Northern Illinois evened the score in the second. The start was given to graduate student left-handed pitcher Cooper Omans who tossed 5.2 innings with seven strikeouts, allowing four runs on six hits. 

Another seven-run second inning for Illinois broke the game open as graduate student second baseman Harding went yard to spark the long frame. The Huskies walked a run in, and Moerman cleared the bases with a decisive grand slam. 

Two runs each were traded in the third inning before Illinois extended its lead with another bomb from Moerman and an RBI single from freshman center fielder Cameron Chee-Aloy. The Illini added a run in their final three at-bats, capped off by senior outfielder Connor Milton, who crushed a solo shot in the eighth inning for his first career home run, sealing the 16-5 victory.   

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Jake Swartz took the mound to begin the series finale on Sunday. Both redshirt junior infielder Drake Westcott and Schroeder homered three times on the day leading to the 21-11 Illinois win, its first 20-plus run game since 2015. 

The Huskies came out slugging in the first inning with three dingers totaling six RBI. Freshman left-handed pitcher Regan Hall finished the first inning after Swartz struck out two batters. 

Firing up the Illini dugout, Chee-Aloy led off with a triple that was followed by a base hit from Hejza to bring him in before Westcott homered to left for two RBI. 

Northern Illinois brought in two runs in the second inning with a double before Harding saved a run and ended the inning with a diving play to second base. The Illini battled back in the second with a single from Quagliano to drive in Harding and a three-run homer from Hejza. Westcott left no doubts for his second home run in his second at-bat of the game, a solo nuke to tie the game at eight runs. 

A scoreless third inning from both sides was booked and then the Huskies added a run in the top of the fourth on a wild pitch. Westcott kept raking and hit his third consecutive home run of the game for two RBI. Illini bats continued to connect as Schroeder shot a two-run homer to put the team up 12-9. 

Holding Northern Illinois scoreless in the fifth, Illinois kept its foot on the gas as Chee-Aloy led off with a solo home run to the opposite field. Moerman came up to bat with the bases loaded and was walked to bring in a run. With the bases still juiced, Schroeder launched his second home run of the day straight to center for a grand slam and an 18-9 Illinois lead. 

After a scoreless sixth inning from the Huskies, Schroeder sent another ball to dead center that went out for his third home run of the game with the Illini up 21-9. Northern Illinois would put up two runs in the seventh but the Illini held on to hit the run rule and win 21-11 after seven innings. 

Illini baseball continues their home stand with a Tuesday night game against Southern Illinois Edwardsville before hosting Northwestern for three games this weekend.


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