Illinois has dropped four of last five with loss to Bradley

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Illinois has dropped four of last five with loss to Bradley

Grant Van Scoy warms his throwing hand during Illinois' 9-6 win against Milwaukee on Wednesday, March 14.

Grant Van Scoy warms his throwing hand during Illinois' 9-6 win against Milwaukee on Wednesday, March 14.

Austin Yattoni The Daily Illini

Grant Van Scoy warms his throwing hand during Illinois' 9-6 win against Milwaukee on Wednesday, March 14.

Austin Yattoni The Daily Illini

Austin Yattoni The Daily Illini

Grant Van Scoy warms his throwing hand during Illinois' 9-6 win against Milwaukee on Wednesday, March 14.

By Gavin Good, Staff writer

Tuesday night, Illinois dropped another non-conference matchup at home as Bradley (24-9) handed Illinois a 4-3 loss in an 11-inning affair.

The loss was Illinois’ fourth in its last five games after the team dropped a midweek contest to Valparaiso last Tuesday and two of three in a series against Grand Canyon over the weekend. On the opposite end, Bradley has now won seven consecutive games dating back to April 13.

The night started out rough for Illini starting pitcher Cyrillo Watson, who was removed after two innings, when he set his pitch count.

To open the game, Bradley shortstop Luke Shadid tripled and later scored on a fielder’s choice when Illinois third baseman Grant Van Scoy threw to second instead of home. The Braves squeezed another run through in the second inning on a sacrifice fly but left three runners stranded during that inning.

Junior right-hander Sean Leland came in for Watson to start the third and struck out one batter, but he went on to walk four batters in a row — hitting one — to give the Braves a free run and bring the lead to 3-0.

Bradley’s starting pitcher Mitch Janssen kept the Illini hitless through three innings, but Michael Massey singled up the second base gap to break it up and score Bren Spillane from second to make it 3-1.

The Illini wouldn’t go away, and in the bottom of the fifth, designated hitter Michael Michalak reached home on an errant throw to third that flew over his slide and went out of play to pull the Illini within one run.

Sophomore right-hander Ryan Schmitt came in to pitch 3.1 scoreless innings, opening up the way for an Illini comeback that happened in the bottom of the eighth, when Spillane scored Van Scoy to level the game at three.

But Illinois would be held back from scoring the go-ahead run, despite outhitting Bradley 7-5 on the night.

“We made mistakes that gave them all four runs,” Hartleb said. “They took advantage, but there were mistakes that were made to put those guys in scoring position or let them score.”

Sophomore shortstop Ben Troike struggled for most of the game, going 0-for-3 until his single set up Spillane’s RBI in the eighth. The single brought the players’ on-base streak to a Big Ten-leading 41 games.

Though Troike and the rest of the Illini struggled, the Tinley Park, Illinois native remains confident that the team can get it together before facing No. 15 Indiana.

“We talked about it after the weekend,” Troike said. “We wanted to come out tonight and take care of business and get back on the right track before we head to Indiana. We’re struggling right now, but I think we’ll be alright.”

Though Illinois had a season-high 12 strikeouts from its pitching staff, Bradley was able to score when it needed to, with the deciding run coming on a two-out single from catcher Keaton Rice in the top of the 11th.

“We made mistakes defensively, we made mistakes offensively and we made mistakes pitching,” Hartleb said. “When you look, all three things contributed to us not getting a win tonight.”

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