Like a lot of you, I was a late-comer to Illinois baseball this season. While I followed the results of the team this season, and Justin Parr's hitting streak, I didn't actually start watching the team play until last week's Big Ten Baseball Tournament. I continued to watch this weekend in the Nashville Regional, and to be honest, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.
Which just makes today's result that much sadder.
Georgia Tech rallied for four runs in the ninth inning to come back and beat the Illini, eliminating them from the postseason, and ending the season.
Just an inning earlier it looked like the Illini were going to pull off a victory as Jordan Parr hit a ball into right-center field. Two Georgia Tech outfielders collided going after the ball, and by the time any Yellow Jacket got around to getting the ball, Jordan had already rounded the bases for an inside-the-park homer to give the Illini a 3-2 lead.
But then the ninth inning came.
Unfortunately for the Illini, as is often the case, it wasn't just the ninth inning that hurt them. The Illini left 10 runners on base today, including seven runners in scoring position.
It wasn't the best way to end the season, but there is seldom a nice way to end a season when you're not winning the title. And although that isn't the case for the Illini this season, it was still a year to be proud of. They finish the year 35-20, and were one of only two teams from the Big Ten to qualify for postseason play. They also had the Big Ten's Player of the Year in Justin Parr, and have a lot of young talent that will be back next season.
The future of Illini baseball is bright at the moment.