Hoosiers Win Slugfest at Illinois
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Indiana University baseball team won a slugfest on Sunday afternoon at Illinois Field in Champaign, defeating host Illini, 17-8, in the final contest of a weekend series. The victory secured a series split (2-2) and improved Indiana's record to 23-17 overall and 7-9 in Big Ten Conference play. Illinois finishes the weekend at 15-21 and 7-9 in league action.
Indiana pounded 19 hits and five different Hoosiers hit home runs in the game. IU got four-RBI efforts from Cody Wargo and Jay Brant and four hits from Ryan Donley. The Illini finished with 13 hits.
Steve Nielsen earned the victory on the mound in relief. The junior righthander pitched the final three innings and held the Illini to just two hits. He did not issue a walk and struck out two as he ran his season record to 3-3.
Wargo lifted the Hoosiers to a 3-0 advantage in the top of the second inning. Donley hit a two-out single into right field, and Josh Richardson knocked a base hit through the left side. That brought up Wargo, who was hitting in the nine-hole for Indiana. The senior catcher went deep to right for his third home run of the season.
Illinois got on the scoreboard in their next at bat. Chris Robinson hit a leadoff single through the left side and advanced to second a ground out. Drew Davidson drove him home with a double to left-center for the Illini's first run of the game. Robinson tagged up and went to third on Vince DiMaria's flyball that was caught Hoosier centerfielder Reggie Watson at the wall. Shawn Roof cashed in with a base hit to right to score Davidson and pull within a run at 3-2.
Indiana carried over its offensive surge into the third by scoring four more runs on a string of six straight hits. Bynum collected his second hit of the game and Joe Kemp followed suit with a single to center field. Corby Heckman laced an RBI double into right, but was thrown out at second. Kevin Mahar's base hit to left plated Kemp, and Donley kept the Hoosiers alive with his second of the game, a single to left. Richardson stepped up and slugged a base-clearing double to the wall in center field and the Hoosiers held a 7-2 lead into the bottom of the frame.
The Illini got one of those runs back in the third, when Ryan Hastings scored on a ground out to the shortstop. In the fourth, U of I made it 7-5. Davidson led off the inning with his second double of the game, and he moved to third as Richardson bobbled DiMaria's grounder at third base. With one out, Trevor Husinga singled to right field to load the bases. IU replaced starting pitcher Brian Lortz with Dan Pezley. Pezley walked Ryan Hastings to give the Illini a run. Chad Frk's groundout to second scored DiMaria for run number five.
Hastings belted his first career homer in the sixth inning, a two-out solo shot over the wall in right-center. The long ball pulled the Illini within a run at 7-6.
In the seventh, the Illini took their first lead of the game on back-to-back solo home runs from Chris Robinson and Eric Eymann.
Heckman answered with a solo home run of his own to start the eighth. The junior blasted the ball out of the park in left, marking his fourth home run of the season and evening the score at eight. Donley pushed the Hoosiers back on top with the game's sixth home run, to right.
Indiana wasn't done yet. Richardson walked and moved to second on a wild pitch. With two away, Watson also drew a walk, and then both runners advanced on a wild pitches by reliever James Morris. Jay Brant hammered his fourth homer of the season to left field and IU took a 12-8 lead. All four of Brant's homers have come in the last six games. Not to be outdone, Bynum went deep to left-center for the Hoosiers' fourth home run of the inning.
In the top of the ninth, Indiana scored four more run to take a 17-8 lead. Donley drove home Heckman with a base hit to right, and then scored on Wargo's single through the right side. Brant's single to left plated Nilles and an error by Davidson in left allowed Watson to come all the way from first to score.
The Hoosiers will be off until next weekend when the Ohio State Buckeyes visit Bloomington for a four-game series at Sembower Field. First pitch of Friday's game is set for 3 p.m. Saturday's doubleheader starts at 1 p.m. and Sunday's finale is set for 1 p.m.
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