A week ago, Illinois baseball was playing .500 ball and waiting to make their move. Well, a lot has happened in the last week. Now, they are making big news!
The Illini, now 6-3, swept the DQ Classic in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Not only did they go 3-0 for the weekend but they defeated #11 UCLA on Friday. In addition, secondbaseman Michael Massey was named Big Ten Player of the Week. Massey batted .500 for the series with two hits in each game. He knocked two doubles against UCLA and drove in two runs against Washington (congratulations, Michael!)
In addition to Massey’s honor, Illinois is starting to receive some attention from college baseball pollsters. Illinois has won five games in a row so it shouldn’t be too surprising. This week, College Baseball Newspaper has put Illinois at #25. Illinois also received a few votes for NCBWA’s poll.
Was it a key weekend for the Illini? Take a look at some of these headlines put together by FightingIllini.com. My guess is that the players are beginning to gel and folks are realizing it.
As the team is heading homeward soon, I can’t wait to see it for myself.
Illinois’ toughest challenge of the tournament, UCLA seemed to have the good guys on the ropes with 3-1 advantage after seven innings. Illinois came back against the then- #11 ranked team. Grant Van Scoy gets the credit for the go-ahead rbi.
Quinn Snarskis is showing some good stuff. He didn’t get the win but gives up five hits and no runs in 5 2/3 innings. Ryan Thompson earned his win by inducing a clutch ground out double play. Joey Gerber earns his second save of the year.
Illinois’ fourth straight win came at the expense of the Arizona Wildcats, a pretty good team in their own right. The Wildcats’ pitching was not on Saturday as every Illinois starter got on base.
Once again, the Illini came back to win. Down 3-2 after six innings, Bren Spillane doubled in a run to tie the game 3-3. One inning later, Spillane took advantage of Arizona’s lack of control and walked with the bases loaded to take the lead, 4-3.
Andy Fisher pitched a solid game giving up three runs in six innings. Guess who would get thee win?? Yes, it would be Ryan Thompson. He is now 3-0 for the season. Joey Gerber followed suit by garnering his third save of the season.
It was all Illinois against the Washington Huskies. The Illini score four runs in the first capped by a two-run double by Jeff Korte. In the fifth inning, they added two more runs driven in by Bren Spillane and Michael Massey. David Craan even stole home in the ninth inning.
Ty Weber showed us some real pitching against Washington. In seven innings, he gave up eight hits but only one walk. That translated to just one Husky run. Ty got some relief from Ryan Schmitt who pitched two perfect innings for his first save of the season.
Make some more room on your mantle, Mr. Massey. You got another award coming. That’s right, in addition to the Big Ten Player of the Week award, Michael Massey was honored with the I Fund Scholar-Athlete of the Week
Shortstop Ben Troike has not gone a game this season without getting a hit. Right now, he is on a 14-game hitting streak going back to his freshman year. His sophomore year is off to a great one! He is now hitting .324 second only to Bren Spillane’s .382. Given his asset on defense, that is pretty remarkable.
What’s that about defense?? I mentioned this last week but Illinois overall fielding is making news. In the last weekend, they made zero errors and their fielding percentage (.994) is now ranked second in the nation behind USC.
Next up: We have one more road trip before the home opener, if you can believe it.
The Illini will be traveling to Greenville, South Carolina for a four-game series on Friday. Friday’s opponent is still TBA at this time. On Saturday, Illinois will take on Furman and Michigan State and on Sunday, the will be one game against the Spartans.