Is Kevin Duchene slated for Game 1 of the Big Ten Tournament?
It’s probably fitting that the two second place teams who entered this weekend would have one of closest series of the Big Ten weekend. Both teams have had won their share of three game sweeps but I had a feeling from the start this wasn’t going to be one of them.
A pitchers’ duel on Friday won by Nebraska. A win by Illinois to tie it on Friday. And sadly, a comeback win by the Huskers today 7-4.
The loss today puts Illinois at 31-19 and 17-7 in the Big Ten. It was a important loss as it puts the Illini in third place and gives them a #3 seed in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament next week.
It was an important loss but not critical. This year, the Illini had the luxury of being further up the standings and not battling for Big Ten Tournament participation. In fact, this year’s performance is only the second time the Illini have finished in the top three in the Big Ten under Dan Hartleb’s leadership.
Yes, a third seed is still doable.
Some quick game recaps for this weekend:
|Game #48 / May 15, 2014|
On Thursday, Nebraska ended Illinois seven-game winning streak in a 2-1 pitchers’ duel. Drasen Johnson was on the losing but similar to many outings this season, he pitched brilliantly. In his complete game loss,, he gave up just two runs and his ERA dropped to 3.03 for the year despite his 5-6 record.
The Illini offense only managed three hits and struck out twelve times.
|Game #49 / May 16, 2014|
Behind the pitching of Kevin Duchene and the bat of Adam Walton, the Illini rebounded for a win on Friday. Duchene won his sixth game of the year giving up one run in six innings. Walton went 3 for 4 with a two-run homer in the fifth inning giving the Illini the lead for good.
The heart of the Illinois order, David Kerian, Jason Goldstein and Reid Roper all collected two hits in the game. Ronnie Muck garnered a three-inning save, his third of the year.
|Game #50 / May 17, 2014|
It was close. The Illini had a 4-2 lead at the top of the fifth inning. Nebraska tied it up on an apparently controversial balk call in the bottom of the fifth. It was goose eggs until Nebraska won it on a walk-off homerun in the bottom of tenth.
Adam Walton had three hits including a triple. Will Krug and Ryan Nagle both had two hits with a double. Ryne Roper hit his first homer of the year.
The Illini will stay in Nebraska as the Big Ten Tournament takes place at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha. As #3 seed, they will be taking on #6 seed Michigan State on Wednesday. It’s an early 9am game.
…and no doubt, revenge will be on the Spartans’ mind.
Great job, Illinois!!