Hoosiers Split Series at Illnois
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - On the second day of Indiana's series at Illinois, the Illini took game one, 7-2, but the Hoosiers bounced to win the second, 4-3, and salvage a 2-2 split in their Big Ten Conference opener. IU is now 16-5 overall and 2-2 in league play while the Illini end up at 12-5 overall and 2-2 conference games.
After the hitting drought in the second game on Saturday, it was clear the Hoosiers were determined to set the tone at the plate early. IU began Sunday's first contest by reeling off three straight singles. Third baseman Vasili Spanos, the Hoosiers' cleanup hitter, reached on a fielder's choice as Mark Calkins was thrown out at home. First baseman Kevin Mahar lined a single to left, scoring Brad DeStefano and Corby Heckman for the 2-0 lead.
The Illini were ready to swing their bats as well. After retiring the first two batters, starter Chris Behrens hit Illinois' Andy Schutzenhofer with a pitch. Third baseman Dusty Bensko followed with a single to left. Then, centerfielder Brandon Cashman nailed a three-run home run just over the wall in right field. Drew Davidson placed a base hit to center field and then came home on Sean Patrick's double to deep right-center. Patrick scored to make 5-2 as Eric Eymann smacked a single to center field. After Behrens walked Joe Parenti, redshirt freshman Austin Rhoads was called out of the bullpen with two outs. Leadoff hitter T.F. Meagher hit the ball hard up the middle, but Hoosier shortstop Seth Bynum made an excellent play, throwing Meagher out at first to halt U of I's offensive surge.
Illinois added two more runs in the bottom of the third frame on a pair of singles, an Indiana error and a sacrifice fly to make it, 7-2.
The Hoosiers were unable to get anything going offensively in game one and suffered their fifth loss of the season. IU finished with six hits and four of those came in the first inning.
Rhoads provided solid pitching for the final 5.1 innings of the game. He gave up four hits and one earned run while striking out one. He hit two Illini batters, but did not issue any walks. Behrens took the loss and fell to 2-1 after allowed five hits and five earned runs in 2/3 of an inning.
In game two, it looked as if Illinois would get on the scoreboard first. Hoosier starting pitcher Josh Lewis walked Illinois' Trevor Frederickson to lead off the second. After retiring a batter, Drew Davidson hit a single to deep right-center and then advanced to second on the throw as Frederickson went to third. Lewis hit Joe Parenti with a pitch to load the bases. Indiana used a nice defensive play to get out of the inning unscathed. U of I's Eric Eymann hit the ball up the third base line and Spanos made a nice play for the force out a third. Spanos immediately threw to first and Kevin Mahar picked the ball up of the dirt to complete the double play.
In the third, the Hoosiers put a run on the scoreboard. Calkins ripped a double to the wall in right-center, scoring rightfielder Kenny Marrs and putting Indiana on top, 1-0.
Illinois came back to take the lead in the bottom of four. Andy Schutzenhofer and Trevor Frederickson got things start with a pair of singles to the outfield. They were sacrificed over by Bensko and then Schutzenhofer came home on a sac fly from Davidson. Parenti's single up the middle scored Frederickson and put the Illini ahead, 2-1.
Senior Kevin O'Brien took over the pitching duties for Lewis at the beginning of the fifth.
In the sixth, the Hoosiers regained the lead, courtesy of Bynum's heroics. Heckman drew a lead off walk and Chad Coder was inserted to run for him at first base. Spanos singled through the left side to place runners at first and second with no outs. Illinois then recorded two consecutive outs before Bynum stepped to the plate. With two strikes on him, Bynum hit a towering shot that cleared the fence in left field and the Hoosiers captured the 4-2 lead.
The Illini fought back in the bottom of the frame as Frederickson responded with a solo homer of his own to right field to make it, 4-3. After O'Brien hit Davidson with one out, closer Ryan Smith came in for the finish.
Though they didn't score in the top of the seventh, the Hoosiers were able to hold on for the win. Smith retired three of four Illinois batters en route to his fourth save of the season. O'Brien picked up the victory and moved to 2-0.
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