Illinois baseball has won their first NCAA Regional Title in school history after defeating the Wright St. Raiders 8-4. The Illini (50-8-1) will now advance to the Super Regional where they will face the winner of (1) Vanderbilt and (2) Radford next weekend.
For the first time in what seemed like weeks, the Illini were able to play a home game without the fear of a potential rain delay looming overhead. Wright State got on the board first in the third inning thanks to a costly two-out error by Reid Roper; the Raiders notched two unearned runs on hits by Sean Murphy and Mark Fowler.
Illinois answered in the fifth inning. After Will Krug cut the deficit in half with a RBI double, Ryne Roper gave Illinois a 3-2 lead by ripping a ball down the left field line. Ryan Nagle immediately followed suit with a line drive of his own to extend the lead to 4-2.
Wright State didn't just roll over and quit; in the fifth inning, the Raiders chased John Kravetz off the mound while scoring two runs to tie the game at 4-4. JD Nielsen came on in relief and managed to get out of a bases-loaded jam without giving up any additional runs.
After Illinois added a run in the top of the sixth inning, Wright State manager Greg Lovelady was ejected after arguing with the home plat umpire over a rough slide into home by an Illini base runner. Radiers' shortstop Mitch Roman was also tossed in the bottom half of the inning.
Tyler Jay entered in the sixth to close out the game for the Illini--he went the distance with four innings of scoreless relief. In the top of the ninth, the Illini added an extra three runs of support on a David Kerian home run and an Adam Walton single.
Champaign Super Regional
The eight national seeds are guaranteed to host the Super Regional if they're able to advance past their respective opening rounds. This means that the Illini will, once again, be playing at home next weekend. The Champaign Regional was paired with the Nashville Regional so Illinois' next opponent will be Vanderbilt, the defending national champions.
With two teams, the Super Regional returns to a more traditional three-game format. The winner of the series moves onto the College World Series in Omaha, NE along with seven other teams.
We'll be previewing Illinois' upcoming series against the Commodores, so make sure to check back throughout the week.