The Illini allowed only seven runs in a four game winning streak to kick off the season. Behind strong pitching from each of their starters, the Illini met high expectations going in to the season while sweeping both New Mexico State (0-4) and Lamar (2-2) on opening weekend.
In the season opener against New Mexico State, Illinois battled back in the ninth and tenth inning to complete a 5-1 comeback win. Will Krug, a strong player for the Illini last season, knocked in senior David Kerian to tie the game 1-1 in the top of the ninth. In what started as a troubled half-inning for the Illini, Sophomore Cody Sedlock did not give up a hit in the bottom of the ninth after allowing a double to start things off. The Illini rallied early in the tenth, scoring four with only one out on the board, though Krug would strike out to end the half-inning, leaving a runner stranded at third. Reid Roper would then come in to close out the game for the Illini, allowing no hits and no walks to cap off the victory.
The Illini would come from behind late again in their second game with the Aggies, scoring three of their four runs in the eighth inning after falling behind 2-1. The eighth inning rally began with a bases-loaded walk with a full count from Kerian that drove in Walton. Sophomore Ryne Roper would bring in the go-ahead runs with a two-RBI single to left field. Tyler Jay would only need to throw seven pitches in a hitless ninth inning for the Aggies, completing the Illini's sweep of the Aggies.
John Kravetz took a no-hitter in to the eighth inning in an 8-1 blowout victory for the Illini over Lamar. Pitching once again dominated in Illinois' third game of the season, as Lamar combined for a total of two hits, both coming in the eighth. The game was sealed for the Illini in the fifth inning after taking a 3-0 lead, and also piling on five more runs in the ninth behind a two-run homer from junior Jason Goldstein.
Illinois would once again prevail with ease in their last game of the weekend with a 9-3 win, behind five scoreless innings from pitcher Tyler Jay. The Illini were able to get the bats going early this game, putting up eight runs through the fourth inning. The pitching combined for nine strikeouts, a season-high through this point for the Illini.
Illini fans have a lot to be happy about through the first four games of the season, especially the superb pitching we have seen thus far. If the Illini can consistently play like this throughout the season, there is a very good chance we have a shot at the conference title, and possibly the World Series.
Next up for the Illini is a road matchup with Florida Gulf Coast (1-3), who have lost their last two games.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Illini?src=hash">#Illini</a> ranked No. 26 in <a href="https://twitter.com/CBNewspaper">@CBNewspaper</a> Top-30 Poll: <a href="http://t.co/tTzQxPfZfX">http://t.co/tTzQxPfZfX</a> <a href="http://t.co/km8US0dUUN">pic.twitter.com/km8US0dUUN</a></p>— Illinois Baseball (@IlliniBaseball) <a href="https://twitter.com/IlliniBaseball/status/567407523750490112">February 16, 2015</a></blockquote>
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