Grand Slam Buries IU in Rubber Match at Illinois
April 8, 2012
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Indiana Baseball lost its first series of the Big Ten season on Sunday, dropping the rubber match to Illinois, 11-6. The Hoosiers are now 14-18 overall and 5-4 in Big Ten play. Meanwhile, the Fighting Illini improve to 17-12 and even their conference mark at 3-3.
Both starting pitchers got roughed up early on, but it was the Illini bullpen and most specifically Matt Millroy, whom stopped the bleeding and shut down the opposition. Millroy entered in the third inning with the score tied up at 5-5 and delivered five innings of shutout baseball. He struck out 10 Hoosiers while scattering three hits and four free passes (3 BB, 1 HBP).
Illinois' base robbery was key to the win as well. The Fighting Illini swiped seven bags in total.
The game started as a slugfest with 10 runs coming off the board in the first two innings. For the second straight day, IU posted a pair of tallies in the opening half inning.
After seeing his 17-game hitting streak snapped on Saturday, Sam Travis started a new one with single in his first at-bat. Kyle Schwarber had walked before him, putting two runners aboard for Dillon Dooney. Dooney sliced a double down the line and into the right field corner. Illinois' Davis Hendrickson played the carom perfectly though to keep Travis at third and limit the damage to one run. It was just a momentary stop for Travis at third base, however, advancing the final station off an RBI-grounder from Michael Basil for run number two.
Illinois' response was loud and clear in the home half, chasing Indiana's starter off the mound without recording an out. Matt Dearden entered with bases loaded, no outs and a run already across. He did his job, inducing back-to-back groundballs, but didn't get the results he was hoping for. The first grounder worked out well as the Hoosiers surrendered a run in exchange for a double play. The next roller found its way to the outfield though, driving in another run and putting Illinois on top 3-2.
Josh Perry issued a pair of free passes to open the second and Schwarber made it hurt, blasting a three-run bomb piercing through incoming winds to vault IU back into the lead at 5-3.
Seeing-eye groundballs continued to find their way through the infield in the bottom half. Add in a bean ball and sac fly; and the ledger was balanced once again at 5-5.
Milroy took to the bump to start the third, and as mentioned before, rattled of five scoreless frames. With Milroy skating along, Illinois was able to get to the Hoosier bullpen and score a run in the fourth and five in the sixth to blow open the doors at 11-5, capped off with a grand slam.
Justin Cureton wasn't done yet, annihilating a pitch off the scoreboard in left for his second long-ball of the series. His solo shot cut the IU deficit to 11-5, but that's where it remained the rest of the contest.
At 5-4 in Big Ten action, Indiana sits in a three-way tie for second place in the conference standings. Purdue is tops at 7-2 while the Hoosiers, Ohio State and Nebraska share the next slot at 5-4 each.
The Cream and Crimson now start a stretch in which they play eight of nine games inside the friendly confines of Sembower Field. In the upcoming week, the Hoosiers will host Indiana State on Wednesday (Apr. 11) before hopping back into the B1G slate when Michigan State comes to town for a weekend series.
Check back soon