Coming into the Big Ten Tournament the Illini were one of the best offenses in the conference. They had the Big Ten Player of the Year in Justin Parr, who led the league or finished second in every major hitting category. As a team the Illini were second in the conference in every major offensive category.
In the tournament the Illini managed to score six runs in three games, and they were eliminated because of it.
The Illini got another strong pitching performance, as they allowed only eight runs in the three games, but the offense just didn't come through. After the Illini took a 1-0 lead in the second inning, Minnesota would do all its damage in the fourth.
The Gophers scored their first run to tie the game in the fourth with two outs, but then the Gophers hit three more two-out singles to bring in two more runs. It was all the scoring the Gophers would get, and all the scoring they'd need.
As for the Illini offense, it was a familiar story as Justin Parr went 1-for-4, but that included two lineouts to second base. All in all it was a nightmare tournament for the middle of the lineup. Justin Parr, Jordan Parr and Brandon Hohl -- the team's 3,4,5 hitters -- were a combined 5-for-35 with one RBI and seven strikeouts. You're just not going to score runs when the middle of your lineup is hitting that poorly.
Also not helping matters on Friday were some base-running blunders. Michael Hurwitz was doubled off first base the first time Justin Parr lined out to second, failing to make sure the line drive went through before heading toward second. Then catcher Kelly Norris-Jones was picked off first base by Minnesota catcher Matt Halloran after wandering too far off the base.
When you're having trouble scoring runs you can't make base-running mistakes like that.
As for where the Illini go from here, we must wait to find out. They finished the regular season ranked 30th in the RPI and they're hopeful that will be enough to earn an NCAA Tournament berth.
If they are lucky enough to get one let's hope they bring their bats with them.
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