Illinois baseball hopes to rebound from last weekend’s losses

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Illinois baseball hopes to rebound from last weekend’s losses

Illinois' Pat McInerney singles at Illinois Field on April 17, 2016.

Illinois' Pat McInerney singles at Illinois Field on April 17, 2016.

The Daily Illini FIle Photo

Illinois' Pat McInerney singles at Illinois Field on April 17, 2016.

The Daily Illini FIle Photo

The Daily Illini FIle Photo

Illinois' Pat McInerney singles at Illinois Field on April 17, 2016.

By Mike Gasick, Assistant sports editor

Senior Pat McInerney drilled a home run over the left center field fence to score the first run of the Illinois baseball team’s second game of the season.

McInerney was one of just two upperclassmen to start the game against Milwaukee last weekend in Beaumont, Texas. The senior went 2-for-4 in the game, but the Illini dropped the contest, 2-4.

Illinois lost its next two games against Lamar, resulting in a 1-3 record to begin the season.

The senior said he is not concerned about the team’s slow start and understands that its inexperience could cause some early hurdles.

“It just takes a while to play your best baseball,” McInerney said. “You just have to find things that click, both pitching and hitting, so it will take a little bit of time, especially with the relative inexperience we have.”

The Illini will have three games in Corpus Christi, Texas, this weekend to try to bounce back from last week’s defeats.

The team begins with a matchup against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Friday. The Islanders played a three-game series against Bradley last weekend, coming away with one win on Opening Day.

The Illini will take on the Islanders who scored at least five runs and nine hits in each of their three games against the Braves.

Illinois will then return Saturday to take on No. 25 Houston, who are off to a 3-1 start, taking down Wake Forest twice and Nicholls State in their opening weekend of play. Houston dropped its first game of the season Tuesday to Houston Baptist.

Last season, Houston knocked off tournament No. 1 seed Tulane twice to make it to the ACC championship game but fell to Connecticut.

“In college baseball, there’s no road game that is easy; it’s always a grind,” head coach Dan Hartleb said. “I think if we continue to make adjustments and get production out of our experienced guys, I think we have a chance to be a very solid team.”

Illinois will close out its weekend with a matchup against Missouri. The Tigers went 26-30 last season and were eliminated in the first round of the SEC tournament by Vanderbilt.

This year, Missouri holds a 3-1 record after playing Eastern Michigan in a four-game series last weekend. The Tigers put up a football-esque of score in Saturday’s performance, defeating the Eagles, 27-9.

Sophomore Luke Shilling got the nod to start last Friday night. Starting pitchers have not been announced yet, but Shilling said he would not mind keeping that spot for the season.

“I’m comfortable wherever the coaches want me to be at,” Shilling said. “As of right now, it looks like (my spot) is that Friday night spot. If it stays that way, then good, but if they see me in something else or in a different role, then my job is to do whatever.”

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