Illinois fails to make adjustments, goes 1-2 at FAU

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Illinois fails to make adjustments, goes 1-2 at FAU

Illinois' Luke Shilling hits a double down the right field line scoring Pat McInerney in the game against Eastern Illinois at Illini Field on Tuesday, April 5. The Illini won 9-7.

Illinois' Luke Shilling hits a double down the right field line scoring Pat McInerney in the game against Eastern Illinois at Illini Field on Tuesday, April 5. The Illini won 9-7.

Austin Yattoni

Illinois' Luke Shilling hits a double down the right field line scoring Pat McInerney in the game against Eastern Illinois at Illini Field on Tuesday, April 5. The Illini won 9-7.

Austin Yattoni

Austin Yattoni

Illinois' Luke Shilling hits a double down the right field line scoring Pat McInerney in the game against Eastern Illinois at Illini Field on Tuesday, April 5. The Illini won 9-7.

By Thomas Polcyn, Assistant sports editor

Beaumont, Texas.

Corpus Christi, Texas.

Boca Raton, Florida.

In its first three weekends of the season, the Illinois baseball team has traveled more than 3,100 miles to those three cities.

Getting comfortable as a young team is difficult. However, adding in the fact that the Illini have traveled all those miles in just three weekends, it makes more sense that the team has gotten off to a slow start.

The team is now 3-7 overall and has lost four out of its last 5 games with a total run differential of 22 runs.

Illinois’ pitching staff has continued to disappoint, as it allowed 31 earned runs on the weekend — adding up to just over 10 earned runs per game.

Friday and Sunday starters Luke Shilling and Ryan Thompson, respectively, combined for six innings pitched, while allowing 14 earned runs and eight walks.

Head coach Dan Hartleb said that falling behind in the count and walking batters have been two of the biggest issues for the pitching staff.

“They need to throw quality strikes,” Hartleb said. “I’ve seen those guys as a group be very effective against our team in practice. I know they’re capable of doing it, but you don’t get a win or a loss in practice.”

Pitching has clearly been the team’s weak spot so far, but despite its struggles, there were some bright spots from the weekend.

Freshman righty Ty Weber threw six innings in his Saturday start — striking out four batters and allowing one run. It was his third career start (first win), and Hartleb liked the adjustments he has made so far this year.

“I think Ty had a great outing,” Hartleb said. “He’s been a guy that’s done a good job, made progress each week. He threw a lot of strikes and only got touched up for one run. I was very pleased with how he went about his business.”

Other notable pitching performances came from Cole Bellair throwing two shutout innings in relief and Ryan Schmitt throwing one shutout inning in his only appearance this weekend.

Aside from its defensive numbers, the team has been performing pretty well.

This weekend, the Illini offense averaged just over eight runs per game and had 17 extra-base hits — including 10 home runs.

The trend of underclassmen carrying the offense has also continued, as sophomores Jack Yalowitz, Doran Turchin and David Craan combined to hit seven of the teams 10 home runs on the weekend. The trio knocked in 11 RBIs and combined to go 12-35 on the weekend (.343).

Hartleb said that the biggest reason the group has performed so well at the plate is the way they have made adjustments.

“They’ve done a really good job at the plate,” Hartleb said. “They’ve made some adjustments, and I’ve seen improvement there and with that, I’ve seen more quality at-bats.”

Though the team has struggled thus far, it is not all bad for the Illini. Hartleb said that he saw a lot of improvement defensively, and that he is happy with the offensive output so far.

“We got production up and down the lineup,” Hartleb said. “Today we didn’t get that production, but we had two very good days offensively.”

The Illini will have all week to make those adjustments, as they are off until they hit the road again for a series with the defending national champions — Coastal Carolina — in Conway, South Carolina.

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@TPolc