Bradley exacts revenge on Illinois baseball

Common perception is that the last three innings of a baseball game are the deciding innings. For the 2012 Illinois baseball team, that notion has been anything but the truth.

With a 6-3 loss at home to Bradley, Illinois (15-11, 1-2 Big Ten) is now 15-0 when leading after six innings and 0-11 when trailing after the sixth frame.

Illinois starter Nick Chmielewski was unable to replicate his performance from last week’s contest against Bradley (13-12-1, 1-2 Missouri Valley), when he allowed just one unearned run and one hit through six innings.

On Tuesday, Chmielewski gave up three earned runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings of work.

“They just put some good swings on balls,” Chmielewski said. “They had a little bit better approach, it seemed like than the last time. They hit balls that were their pitch, I left some pitches up and they took advantage of it.”

In last week’s 6-3 Illinois road victory, the Illini had a 6-1 lead after seven innings before allowing two late runs. It was the Braves this time who built a 6-1 advantage after seven innings before allowing two ninth inning runs.

Just as Illinois got a great performance from its starter last week, Bradley starter Tory Doerr took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, finishing with one earned run on three Illini hits.

“Last week, (Chmielewski) was spot on, he was so sharp, he kept us off balance,” Bradley head coach Elvis Dominguez said. “It’s almost a mirror image. … Our kid was a little sharper and on top of his game.”

Despite the loss, Illinois was not disappointed in its performance.

“I have no problem with how we played today,” senior Willie Argo said. “I thought we hit the ball hard all day; it seemed like it was right at guys, especially after the first three innings it felt like we were just lining out all over the place.”

The Illini, down 6-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth, put some late pressure on the Braves when they scored two runs with two outs.

Brandon Hohl led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a failed pickoff attempt.

After a Jordan Parr pop out, Davis Hendrickson grounded out as Hohl advanced to third. Hohl scored on a Bill Charvat double. Pinch hitter David Kerian then walked before redshirt freshman Reid Roper doubled in another run, advancing Kerian to third base. With the tying run at the plate, leadoff man Thomas Lindauer lined out to left field to end the game.

“Any time you lose it’s frustrating,” Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb said. “It was good to see our guys battle back today and (they) never really felt like they were out of it.”

Hartleb isn’t worried about the lack of late-inning victories.

“That (0-11 record when trailing after six innings) is just a stat right now, and we’ll have some come-from-behind wins as we move forward.” Hartleb said.