Through two games, the University of Illinois baseball team is hanging in the first round of the NCAA Regionals. This comes after defeating Kansas State Saturday night 5-3 behind a formidable effort by starter John Anderson who only gave up one earned run in eight innings.
Let’s take a quick look at both games of the Fullerton Regionals so far:
Cal State Fullerton 10 Illinois 4
If you didn’t watch or listen to the game on Friday night, you might be forgiven if you thought this was a blowout by the Titan squad. The game was a whole lot closer than the score makes it appear. In fact, it wasn’t until the 8th inning when CSF put the writing on the wall when they sealed with three runs. Until then, it only a three run game.
And before that, Illinois had control of the game. Matt Dittman gave us more of the same with a 2nd inning homerun giving Illinois a 2-0 lead. Fullerton did score four runs in the fourth and fifth innings but Illinois battled and tied it up on a Casey McMurray single in the sixth.
Unfortunately, that was about all the Illini magic left for this game. Titan pitcher Tyler Pill held the Illini to no more runs and even managed to drive in two of his own.
Illinois 5 Kansas State 3
On Saturday, the Kansas State Wildcats scored the first run of the game in the second but once Illinois erased that lead in the next half inning, there seemed to be no doubt who was in control of the game.
In the third, Josh Parr followed up a Davis Hendrickson triple with a double of his own. Parr scored later on a sac fly thanks to brother Justin. The next inning, the Illini scored three more keyed by a triple by Josh Parr, again.
For the game, Josh Parr was 2 for 4 with a double , triple and three rbis.
But let’s face it, the real story of Saturday’s game was John Anderson. He went into the 9th inning (rumor has it he didn’t want to come out). Only giving up one earned run for those eight full innings, the win gives Anderson an 8-6 record.
Chris Pack came in for a perfect ninth inning for his 4th save of the year.
What now? Basically in the context of the Fullerton Regional, Illinois is in ‘can’t lose’ mode. Cal State Fullerton who was upset by Stanford yesterday 1-0, is on the docket for tonight. Both teams are 1-1 in the tournament. Let’s put it this way, Illinois has a chance to eliminate the Titans from the Regionals. If that’s not incentive for Corey Kimes and the Illini, I don’t know what is. Revenge could be sweet.
The winner of tonight’s game will go on to play Stanford but would have to beat them twice to advance to the Super Regionals. Sound familiar? Illinois was in Stanford’s enviable position in the Big Ten Tournament with Michigan State.
Here are the NCAA Regional brackets. Click on the Fullerton bracket for a more detailed look.