Illinois splits its weekend

By Tatiania Perry, Assistant sports editor

Going into the weekend, the Illinois baseball team was 1-1, with a few things to work on.

Illinois opened up with Coastal Carolina onFriday, the first matchup the teams would have in two days.

Jack Yalowitz hit a homer into right field to kick off an early Illini lead. However, Coastal Carolina responded rather quickly at the bottom of the inning with four runs.

The Illini tied the game when Jeff Korte hit a ground out to bring home Bren Spillane, who had tripled.

The Illini came back with two more runs, and the teams remained tied at 4-4 for two innings.

Coastal’s preseason All-American Kevin Woodall Jr. lobbed a two-run homer into left field to push Coastal into the 6-4 lead that carried through the rest of the game.

Andy Fisher started for the Illini, allowing four runs on five hits in his four innings. The junior also struck out three and walked three.

Ryan Thompson came in as a relief with the most successful outing. He went nearly three scoreless innings and tied for a career high with four strikeouts.

On Saturday, the Illini split their games in Springs Brooks Stadium.

First, Illinois fell to West Virginia in a 10-8 loss.

Illinois went scoreless in the first five innings, making the score 0-6 after allowing four runs in the first, one in the fifth and one in the sixth.

Zac Taylor blasted a two-run homer in the sixth inning. Spillane tied the game soon after with a grand slam.

But it was Kevin Brophy that ultimately pushed West Virginia to its victory.

Brophy hit three home runs during the course of the game and drove in eight runners. He then hit a grand slam in the bottom of the sixth to give the Mountaineers the lead for good.

The Illini turned around and faced Coastal Carolina again. This time, they were victorious.

“The first game, for the most part, I feel like we were in control most of the time until Woodhall hit the home run, and even that was just a pitch down on its own,” said outfielder Doran Turchin. “But I think as a team, we put a lot of good at-bats together and played defense well. Adjustment-wise, I don’t think we made any adjustment, we just wanted to stick to the same game plan.”

In the second matchup, Illinois jumped to an early 7-0 lead by the fifth inning.

Jeff Korte kicked off the scoring with a three-run hit in the second. The Illini then added four more runs in the fifth, two of which were added by Michael Massey and Grant Van Scoy, as a result of Turchin’s home run.

Starter Ty Weber was on the mound for Illinois for six innings, allowing four runs on five hits while striking out four. He turned it over to the bullpen in the seventh, and three Illini finished off the game.

Zack Jones worked a 1-2-3 seventh, Sean Leland held Coastal scoreless in the eighth and Joey Gerber picked up his first save of the year, allowing only the two-out homer.

Coastal Carolina scored all of its runs on three two-run homers for a final score of 7-6.

Decked out in brand new pinstripe uniforms, Illinois took on Virginia Commonwealth for its final game and win of the weekend, 7-4.

“As a team, we loved the uniforms before we even stepped on the field,” Turchin said. “Once we got to playing in them, our swagger went a little through the roof, and we had to bring it down a bit.”

VCU was the first to score, but the Illini responded quickly with a Yalowitz lob to drive home Taylor.

Taylor turned around and blasted a two-run homer out of the park, followed by Spillane and Massey coming home for a four-point lead at the bottom of the third.

VCU finally scored on their ninth single of the day in the bottom of the seventh and then again in the eighth.

Turchin slammed his third homer of the season, bouncing the score to 7-3 Illini.

After one final attempt to come back, VCU gained a single run.

Illinois ended its weekend with a 3-3 record.

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