David Kerian lined a go-ahead two-run home run in the sixth inning to lead the No. 15 Illinois baseball team to a 4-3 win over Missouri in the annual Braggin' Rights game at GCS Ballpark in Sauget.
Both sides failed to produce a hit until the fourth inning, when Illinois (21-6-1) senior Casey Fletcher moved Reid Roper into scoring position and junior Jason Goldstein drove him in with a single to right field for a 1-0 lead.
Junior Ryan Nagle sent a flyout to center field that the Missouri (20-10) center field lost in the lights to score redshirt-sophomore Adam Walton from first with two outs in the fifth for a 2-0 advantage.
Starter Rob McDonnell did not allow a hit until the fifth when the Tigers tallied five hits and took a 3-2 lead.
Again with two outs, the Illini offense came to live in the sixth. Goldstein doubled and Kerian, who leads the Big Ten with seven home runs, lined a two-run homer over the porch in right to regain the lead, 4-3. All four Illini runs came on two outs.
McDonnell registered two outs in the sixth before Illinois Coach Dan Hartleb handed the ball to reliever Nick Blackburn with runners on the corners. McDonnell allowed three runs on six hits, striking out six and walking three in five and two-thirds innings.
Blackburn forced a flyout and got out of a jam in the seventh as well. Two Tigers reached to lead off the inning then Blackburn got the force out at third on a sacrifice bunt, and followed with a fly out and groundout to end the frame.
After a single in the eighth, Illinois death row of relievers entered. Junior J.D. Nielsen and sophomore Cody Sedlock forced groundouts while the tying run moved to third. Closer Tyler Jay struck out the batter to leave the runner stranded at third and struck out the side swinging in the ninth for his 17 career save.
The Illini return home for a three-game series against in-state rival Northwestern (8-19, 2-1) starting Friday.
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